In 2010, ancient ‘ōhi‘a trees towered above a nearly empty forest floor in the high-elevation forests of Kahuku in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Cattle, pigs and sheep had removed nearly all the ferns and small trees. A few endangered ‘ōhā wai (Clermontia lindseyana) were clinging to survival above the ground on large trees. The park’s Natural Resources Management staff built a fence to keep out pigs and sheep to protect these remaining plants, as well as encourage other native species to establish. Together with Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the park began to establish ‘ōhā wai and other rare species by collecting seeds, propagating plants in the greenhouse and planting in the field. This was an ideal place for restoration with fast growth and plants flowering within three to four years. By using wildlife cameras, we are able to see the rare native honeycreeper ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea, also known as Vestiaria coccinea) sipping nectar from the flowers. Restoring the habitat for these birds at high-elevation sites is important to improve their chances of survival in the face of climate change.
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