WATERSHEDS & ECOSYSTEMS
THE WATER CYCLE IN AN AHUPUA‘A
WHY DO WE WORK TO PROTECT THE AHUPUA'A?
IMPROVE WATERSHED FUNCTION
During their 35 million year history the biota that first arrived to the Hawaiian Islands came via the waves, wings or by wind (ocean currents, birds or air currents). These new arrivals encountered numerous niches due to the elevation changes from sea level to 13,000 feet and a variety of micro climates from desert to rain forest to exploit. The geographical advantages combined with the lack of competitors, allowed an explosion of successive ecological shifts known as adaptive radiation. For example, two genera of violets—Viola and Isodendrion - evolved from two separate introductions, each of which was followed by a moderate degree of adaptive radiation*.
PROTECT NATIVE BIODIVERISTY
Due to their relative isolation, the biota in the Hawaiian islands is said to have been naturally introduced by one of three means, wind borne, ocean borne or transported by birds before humans arrived. Successful colonization was rare, however those plants and animals that did survive found numerous niches to develop into highly specialized flora and fauna. Some examples of adaptive radiation include honeycreepers, land snails, lobeliads, silver sword plants and a variety of insects. In all, approximately 1,700 species of native Hawaiian plants evolved from about 300 separate species and 10,000 species of native Hawaiian insects may be descended from only 350 to 400 separate founders*.
Restoration of leeward Haleakalā forests is consistent with Federal and State programs to protect Federally designated critical habitat for Maui’s threatened and endangered plants and animals.
*Source: National Academy of Sciences: https://www.nap.edu/read/10865/chapter/8
MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE
Forests are the “lungs of the earth”, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen that we need to survive. An additional benefit of the forest is its ability to capture greenhouse gases. These types of gases that when added to the atmosphere, tend to trap heat from the sun resulting in a gradual increase in temperatures that may eventually result in climate changes. By planting trees such as Koa, the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be sequestered.