June 21st, 2013
How about some good news for Hawaii's forests?
The state of Hawaii offers more funding for forest protection this year, with $3.5 million in general funds and $5 million in general obligation bond funding in fiscal year 2014 for watershed protection (and another $2.5 million in bonds for fiscal year 2015).
"The Department of Land and Natural Resources Watershed Initiative remains a top priority and will continue to move forward," said Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who signed the state budget bill into law June 18. "Protecting our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, is essential to the future of agriculture, industry and our environment in Hawaii. It is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries."
The moneys set aside will:
>> Protect Hawaii's largest remaining tract of dryland forest in Manuka, in the Kau district of Hawaii island.
>> Allow for additional hires of natural resource managers and planners for on-the-ground forest protection projects.
>> Give funding to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to address invasive plants and animals that threaten native forests and their ability to provide water.
DLNR chair William Aila said: "We can now make substantial progress towards our goal of doubling the level of forest protection in a decade."
More than half of Hawaii's forests have been lost, while the rest are threatened by expanding populations of invasive species. Hawaii's forests play an essential role in providing Hawaii's drinking water. To learn more, catch "The Rain Follows The Forest," a documentary featuring Jason Scott Lee.
Some of the state's funded projects include:
>> Fences to protect more than 1,000 acres of forest from feral pigs in the Koolaus.
>> On the Big Island, a project to plant native mamane trees at a 5,200-acre restoration site on the northern slope of Mauna Kea. Nearly 50,000 trees have already been planted in the last three years.
>> Comprehensive management, invasive species control and protective barriers in the remote forests of Kohala and Kau on the Big Island.
>> Protect more than 9,000 acres on the north, east and south slopes of Haleakala on Maui.
>> Protect more than 3,000 acres of forest on Kauai, which are threatened by invasive ginger, Australian tree ferns, feral pigs and goats.