the starting point
Driven by accelerated levels of fire and the impacts of invasive non-native plants and animals beginning around 1000-1500 A.D., vast tracts of lowland native forests that formerly cloaked the leeward slopes of the Hawaiian Islands have disappeared, metamorphosing the land to a degree that few of us can probably imagine.
Extinction is not always about rare things becoming rarer. Sometimes, it is about the incredibly common species somehow reduced to the last individuals, such as the Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) of the Eastern United Sates which was once so abundant it darkened the skies but is now extinct. In some sense, somehow this type of extinction seems more tragic, more of a warning sign.
In a similar fashion, the once common Hawaiian tree species mēhamehame(Flueggea neowawraea) has tragically been reduced to only four known wild individuals on Maui, all on southern Haleakalā. At this point, mēhamehame is among the worlds’ rarest trees and dangerously close to extinction.
Two of Maui’s last four trees occur on a small isolated `a`a flow in lower Auwahi and are the focus of the Auwahi project’s new lower elevation restoration area. Recently, we discovered that this regional population had been much larger, with the identification of six additional dead mēhamehame trees nearby on the flow, based on distinctive wood characteristics. Dr. Art Medeiros, Project Manager, speculates that these few remaining mēhamehame trees are the last representatives of what must have been thousands or more growing in the thick native forests adjoining the flow before they were ever impacted by fire and invasive species.
Ecological restoration is the evolving practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention. This small population of mēhamehame in Auwahi offers a starting point for a highly endangered native Hawaiian tree species to make a last stand.
Come join us Monday, June 11th, to lend a hand in removing invasive species at the kipuka in lower Auwahi that contains these two remaining mēhamehame trees.
Special note: This work is likely to be a bit tougher and scratchier than our normal trips, with particularly challenging, rugged `a`a rubble for footing. This time more than others, please no one with ankle, knee, hip, or back problems.
Due to limited seating, please understand that confirmation of your reservation is required for you to attend. To request a seat, send us a note to email@example.com.
Where: Meet at `Ulupalakua Ranch Store. Please park behind store and bring all your gear.
When: Monday, June 11, 2018 8:00 AM ~ 4:00 PM
What to bring: Due to the rough and steep terrain, we require hiking boots that cover the ankle, and unfortunately, we will have to turn folks away without proper boots. We have some extra boots you can borrow but please bring your own socks. Long pants are also recommended to protect against the dense brush. Please bring a back pack with layered clothing, rain gear, two liters of water, lunch, sunscreen and a hat. Coolers are not advised because of the rugged terrain we need to traverse to do our work. Please clean all your gear, backpacks and boots to leave hitchhiking seeds behind.
Located on and sponsored by `Ulupalakua Ranch, the Auwahi Project (www.auwahi.org) protects one of the last diverse tracts of dryland forest in the archipelago. We are a community based project, in large part, dependent on the contributions of the public, especially in terms of volunteerism for tree planting and other aspects of forest management.
As usual, before leaving the ranch we will be decontaminating our boots with brushes to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and using alcohol to avoid the potential spread of rapid `ōhi`a death (ROD) and other possible pathogens that can threaten our native Hawaiian forests.
Auwahi Forest Restoration `ohana