Kiawe Removed at ʻĀhihi-Kīna‘u on Maui
Numerous kiawe trees are being cut down and removed from ʻĀhihi-Kīna‘u Natural Area Reserve on Maui’s south shore.
NAR Manager Jeff Bagshaw explains, “Prosopis pallida or kiawe is native to Central and South America, not Hawaiʻi. 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,” said Bagshaw.
A crew from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife 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.
ʻĀhihi-Kīna‘u NAR, like natural area reserves around the state, was established to protect native species, mauka to makai.
DLNR representatives say that many native plants are in trouble for similar reasons. Bagshaw said, “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.”