Kalaupapa National Historic Site

About the Park

Kalaupapa National Historic Site

Kalaupapa National Historic Site  is located on a peninsula on the Hawaiian island of Moloka`i which was formed by two shield volcanoes, Mauna Loa to the west and Kamakou to the east. At Kalaupapa, three valleys, Waikolu, Wai`ale`ia and Waihanau are bordered on three sides by cliffs 1,600 to 4,000 feet high. About 230,000 years ago, long after Mauna Loa and Kamakou became extinct, another small shield volcano rose from the sea floor and joined against the north cliffs. This volcano, named Pu`u `Uao, formed a relatively flat triangle of land through continuous flows of pahoehoe lava. The Kalaupapa Peninsula is two miles from the cliffs to the tip, and two-and-one-half miles in width at the base of the cliffs, an area approximately five square miles.

Climate change presents significant risks and challenges to the National Park Service and specifically to Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Scientists cannot predict with certainty the general severity of climate change nor its impacts. Average global temperatures on the Earth’s surface have increased about 1.1°F since the late 19th century, and the 10 warmest years of the 20th century all occurred in the last 15 years. Rising global temperatures will further raise sea levels and affect all aspects of the water cycle, including snow cover, mountain glaciers, spring runoff, water temperature, and aquatic life. Climate change is also expected to affect human health, crop production, animal and plant habitats, and many other features of our natural and managed environments.

At Kalaupapa National Historical Park, change in climate will drastically affect the natural ecosystems. With temperatures increasing, ocean levels will rise and threaten to displace the habitat of many endangered species such as the Monk seal. There are many species of rare birds and plants that exist only in Kalaupapa due to its isolation from human impacts. The sudden change in environmental factors threatens all of these species as well as the cultural heritage that Kalaupapa represents. As a national park Kalaupapa, should represent the height of environmental sustainability by striving to reduce green house gas emissions and other environmental contaminants.

This Action Plan identifies steps that Kalaupapa National Historical Site can undertake to reduce GHG emissions mitigate its impact on climate change. The plan presents the park’s emission reduction goals, and associated reduction actions to achieve the park’s goals. While the plan provides a framework needed to meet the park’s emission reduction, it is not intended to provide detailed instructions on how to implement each of the proposed measures. The park’s Environmental Management System will describe priorities and details to implement these actions.

Emissions Profile

In 2008, GHG emissions within Kalaupapa National Historical Park totaled 1,421 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities, including vehicle use within the park.

The largest emission sector for Kalaupapa National Historical Park is energy, totaling 1,093 MTCO2E in 2008. Purchased electricity comprises 94 percent of emissions from energy and 72 percent of total park emissions. The vast majority of the purchased electricity in the park is used by State of Hawaii Department of Health. Emissions from park operations, which exclude visitor and concessioner activities, totaled 224 MTCO2E. Park operations emissions mainly result from stationary combustion and purchased electricity (52 percent combined), though transportation is a significant source as well (28 percent).

The graph below, taken from our Climate Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2008 broken down into sectors, including visitor travel.

Graph of GHG Emissions


Kalaupapa National Historical Park intends to:

  • Reduce 2008 energy GHG emissions from park operations by 20 percent by 2016.
  • Reduce 2008 transportation GHG emissions from park operations by 20 percent by 2016.
  • Reduce 2008 waste GHG emissions from park operations by 10 percent by 2016.
  • Reduce total 2008 park GHG emissions, including concessioners, by 5 percent by 2016.
To read more about what we are doing at Kalaupapa National Historical Park about climate change, check out our Action Plan