Hurricane Iselle hit the Keau’ohana forest hard in 2014, and was then followed by Rapid ‘Ohi’a Death (ROD). Feral pig activity has since the lava event of 2018 increased damages to the forest floor, much to the dismay of Keau’ohana’s hard working crew members. Although the understory is going strong in much of the forest site thanks to intensive restoration efforts which began in 2014, natural disasters, and the recent Covid-19, continue to challenge the efforts. Protecting the largest remaining lowland rainforest below 1,000 feet in Hawai’i is now more important than ever.
The Keau’ohana native forest restoration site affords the most important remaining habitat for the endangered ha’iwale (Cyrtandra nanawalensis)! Natural clusters of ha’iwale, which were previously located in Puna and Hilo Districts, and which are restricted to these regions, have been dwindling alarmingly fast, along with the continued collapse of our precious native environment.
In May of 2020, the Natural Areas Reserves (NARS)/ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), deployed materials for the fencing of numerous natural clusters of the endangered ha’iwale in the Keau’ohana restoration site. NARS specialists, Joshua VanDeMark and his crew have thus far successfully erected a 2000 square foot enclosure around the largest ha’iwale spread at the center of the site. Numerous other clusters are to follow.
Our thanks to DOFAW for helping with the immediate needs of the delicate ha’iwale species. HER will soon investigate options for fencing of the entire 30 acre restoration site. According to HER beloved crew, it is an uphill battle, but with a deeply rewarding purpose, as they bear witness to the still existing beauty.