• biology
  • culture
  • silviculture
  • water


08.04.2005—Pu‘u Makua

Silviculture: Diversification of Rural Economy

The regional decline of watershed forests has also resulted in a loss of economic productivity. Most regional experts in conservation and land management believe that silviculture and conservation can be dovetailed into complementary land management scenarios where both economic interests and biological conservation can be maximized.

The endemic koa is one of the world’s finest hardwoods and easily the most valuable of all Hawaiian timber species, both native and non-native. Koa is highly sought after as high-grade, finish hardwood suitable for high-end furniture, musical instruments, and veneer. For private landowners on Haleakalā, the conversion of upper-elevation ranchlands into koa silviculture integrated with biological conservation programs is appealing. Currently, annual koa wood production, derived from old growth stands, is unsustainable, given the existing and projected harvest rates. Saleable koa timber, capable of harvesting in 20-25 years, sells for $15 to $100/board foot. Even using average unfigured finish lumber prices as a guide, per acre values per cohort exceed $0.5 million. The industry is valued at $27 million annually with an estimated potential in excess of $300 million per year. Koa currently represents approximately 90% of Hawai‘i’s $30 million timber industry.

Silviculture and the existing cattle industry can also be complementary. Through grazing, cattle control invasive weeds at the perimeter of watershed forests and offer protection from watershed-damaging wildfires by reducing fuel build-up. Forest restoration charges local springs and encourage grass growth on which cattle are dependent in this drought-prone region.

Biology   Culture   Water  
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