What We Can Do to Protect the ʻŌhiʻa Trees

10 ways to help protect the MauiʻŌhiʻa from Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death:

If you haven’t heard about the ʻŌhiʻa forest being at risk, you are just in time. RapidʻŌhiʻa Death is threatening the life of the Hawaiian forest.  The ʻŌhiʻa trees that make up the largest part of the forest are a keystone species. Keystone species are the backbone of  an ecosystem, if the keystone species of any given ecosystem were to disappear that ecosystem would be affected greatly or even collapse entirely.  Take the honey bee for example, another keystone species, no honey bee = no food. It doesn’t get more straight forward than that. One does not have to be a scientist to recognize this relationship between bees and food.

The high reaching treetops of ʻŌhiʻa forest gather rain and moisture from the air directing much needed water to the islands aquifer. These beautiful trees also provide a canopy for other plants and countless creatures. The flowers give sweet nectar to bird, bees and other pollinators. We must all do our part to save these trees and the environment they support. Here are a few ways you can help.


1. Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa.
The fungus can easily make its way into the tree through cuts in the bark. When using a weed-eater around the base or tree do not allow the whips to come in contact with the trunk, as girdling trees make them susceptible to illness. A sure way to kill any tree is to cut the bark all the way around it.

2. Leave ʻōhiʻa wood, parts and flowers  where there are.
While the trees are at risk do not share cutting or seeds with other islands or even to other parts of any island.

3. Don’t transport ʻōhiʻa inter-island.
Leave all ohia products on the island they are currently on.  This means leis too. Please do not transport Ohia leis from one island to the other. This disease has been confirmed on Hawaii and Kauai, that does not mean the other islands are all clear.

4. Clean gear and tools, including shoes and clothes, before and after entering the forest.
Use isopropyl alcohol to clean gardening tools, shoes.  Bring a change of clothes to wear after leaving the forest. Place soiled clothing that may have become contaminated into a bag. Wash clothes and the bag, if applicable, in hot water and dry on high heat.

5. Wash the tires and undercarriage of your vehicle to remove all soil or mud.
Properly cleaning vehicles that have been in contaminated areas is crucially important and a huge chore. If you do not have a dire need to be there it is better to be avoided. Hopefully the heavy equipment being used is being properly cleaned prior to leaving the forest where the fungus is present.

6. Buy locally grown plants and produce to prevent introducing foreign spores or creatures that may be in soil or on plants. 
This is a great practice to protect other kinds of trees too. Currently the ʻōhiʻa is being attacked, what’s next? (hopefully Cane Grass also known as Giant Reed.)

7. Volunteer  with a seed conservation project.
Volunteering is a great way to learn while contributing to the well being of your island and community. Skills learned while volunteering may also look great  on a resume when seeking out a rewarding and fulfilling career that you would love. Check out Hands On Maui for details. Some volunteering opportunities are available to visitors as well.

8. Donate to a reputable cause. 
Contact ʻŌhiʻa Legacy Initiative to donate to the planting of ʻōhiʻa trees in Urban Hawaii. Or do some research on your own to decide if you would like to make a donation to another organization.

9. Educate yourself about what is happening with theʻōhiʻa.
This is an overall a good practice for all aspects of life.  Consider the information you are given and think critically about it.  Check into your intuition to make sure what you are hearing feels legit to you. In other words, don’t just believe everything you hear.

10. Spread the Word and share your findings with the children.
Tell others what is happening and share the information with the keiki (children). It is never too soon to encourage children to respect the planet. Kids will talk with each other about important issues.  “I believe the children are our are future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” Could you just hear Whitney Houston singing, Michael Masser’s song, inside your head? Start discussions with others, children and adults, as a way not only to teach but also to learn. Co-creation is the key for an optimal life for all. Once the need for information is shared the details will find their way to the seeker.

11. Share this blog.
Please share this blog on facebook or whatever means works to get the word out.

Thank you for visiting ConsciousMaui.com we appreciate you.  It is our pleasure to introduce like minded people and business that are doing what they can to support the island and each other.  Whether you live on Maui or are here on vacation, there is a place in your heart for the island. Mahalo in advance for doing what you can to protect the ‘aina (land).