• A view of the cinder desert

    Haleakalā

    National Park Hawai'i

Nature & Science

The native hawaiian goose, nene
Nēnē, the native Hawaiian goose, can usually be seen near park headquarters.
NPS photo by Bryan Harry
 

Isolated in the mid Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands are the most remote major island group on earth. They were formed as the Pacific Plate moved across a volcanic "hot spot" within the earth's mantle. Lying 2,400 miles (3,862 km) from the nearest continent, they have never had connection to any other land mass. Natural crossings across this great expanse of ocean by animals and plants were extremely rare and very surprising occasions. After such accidental arrivals, and isolated from mainland populations, these pioneer organisms took strange courses of evolution and allowed a unique biota to develop.

Unaccustomed to mainland competition, however, these remote native island ecosystems are defenseless against mainland alien species, and have been decimated by new grazers, predators and diseases.

Haleakalā National Park, and its East Maui Watershed Partner neighbors, still harbor an astonishing relict of these native island ecosystems. The major effort of Haleakalā's resource stewardship is to preserve intact this superb example of the Hawaiian Islands' native ecosystems.

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