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DLNR NEWS RELEASE: Saving your feet, coral reefs, and native plants at ‘Ahihi-Kina’u

Posted on May 26, 2016 in Latest Department News

Kiawe Removed in Maui Natural Area Reserve

(KAHULUI, MAUI) – Ask anyone who’s had a thorny branch go through their slipper and into their foot, through a tire, or land on their car and you’ll get one answer. Kiawe is a nasty plant that can hurt, can puncture and can scratch. This is not the only reason numerous kiawe are being cut down and removed from ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on Maui’s south shore.

NAR Manager Jeff Bagshaw explains, “Prosopis pallida or kiawe is native to Central and South America, not Hawaii. Its thorns are a dead give-away that its adapted for other places. First brought to the islands by sailors in 1828, it competes for space with a one-two punch: it uses a deep tap root to suck moisture from soils and it out-shades all native plant competitors.  Large kiawe logs and branches have also fallen into the ocean, where their water-logged weight keeps them rolling on the bottom, mowing down corals during south swells.  Seed pods falling into the ocean means this weed-tree can move and colonize more and more coastline.”

A crew from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) has been working this week to remove kiawe along the road near a popular snorkeling stop and along the main parking lot in the NAR.  For at least one tree, hanging out over the water, they’ll have to bring in specialized equipment and a professional arborist to make sure it doesn’t fall into the ocean.

‘Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR, like natural area reserves around the state, was established to protect native species, mauka to makai.  Many native plants are in trouble, and its always the same old story.  Bagshaw continued, “Introduced, alien plants and animals aggressively push them out.  Our  mission is to help the native plants and corals win the battle. We recognize some people will miss the shade provided by the kiawe trees, but that means we have to adapt with big hats and umbrellas.”


HD Video of tree cutting operation:


Photographs of tree cutting and kiawe in the ocean:

Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0407