Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Working Group Wins Conservation Award
The Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Working Group, formed to respond to a new disease threatening Hawai‘i’s the native ʻŌhiʻa forest tree, recently received the Conservation Innovation award at the 2019 Hawai‘i Conservation Conference.
The working group is made up of nearly 200 individuals representing state, county, federal, university, non-profit organizations, local and private businesses, as well as private citizens.
The purpose of the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Working Group is to facilitate inclusive communication on all issues related to the fungal disease and share knowledge on a regular basis among group members, their organizations, and the people of Hawai’i.
The ROD Working Group has been meeting monthly in Hilo since 2015. “This forum has been key to maintaining information flow as well as connecting folks who want to contribute to the cause,” said Rob Hauff, State Protection Forester, with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death is caused by two closely related fungi species and has been found throughout Hawai’i island and was detected on Kaua’i in 2018 and on Maui last month. ʻŌhiʻa is the backbone of Hawaii’s native forests and watersheds making up 80% of remaining native forests.
The working group recommends the following to help reduce the risk of spreading Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death:
• Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa
• Don’t transport ʻōhiʻa inter-island
• Don’t move ʻōhiʻa wood or vegetation
• Clean your hiking boots/gear/tools
• Wash your vehicle
Representatives receiving the award on behalf of the working group included: Dr. Flint Hughes, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station; Dr. Lisa Keith, USDA Agriculture Research Service, Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center; Dr. J.B. Friday, University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; and Rob Hauff, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife.