Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) Program provides framework, funding, and publishing support to parks to aid in the synthesis and documentation of natural resource conditions. Condition assessment reports are a tool to describe selected park resources, and record a snapshot of their current condition, identify trends, and identify potential or current threats and stressors. Understanding the condition and trend of natural resources is key for parks and NPS planners to appropriately prioritize and allocate stewardship resources.

Black volcanic rock along the blue coastal waters and volcanic steam rising in the background.
Lava steam on the coastline of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

NPS Photo.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located on the southeastern portion of Hawai‘i Island, within the state of Hawai‘i. Although the park was originally established to protect and study the significant volcanic processes and features within the Park (notably Kīlauea and MaunaLoa Volcano), it is now appreciated for its other important resources. A great diversity of ecosystems and vegetation types occur at the park ranging from wet forests to coastal anchialine pools and underground lava tubes. These varied environments harbor a unique and diverse assemblage of native wildlife and vegetation.

Over 50 federally and state listed species and 26 Species of Concern are known to occur within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park or historically occurred within the park boundaries. The park also serves as a popular tourist destination for domestic and international visitors, an education and research center, and a preserve for cultural resources.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2019

In order to better understand the natural resources and processes present in this park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was written by park staff and other NPS representatives. For this NRCA, the current condition of a subset of the most important natural resources were evaluated. The report was published in 2019 and shows a snapshot of these resource conditions:

- Air quality

- Landbirds

- Volcanic features & processes

- Seabirds

- Invasive species

- Hawaiian hoary bats

- Coqui frogs

- Endangered & threatened marine vertibrates

- Focal native plant taxa

- Native insects & sprintail communities

- Wet forest plant communities

- Cave and lava tube communities

- Mānele/Koa/‘Ōhi‘a Montane Mesic Forest Plant Communities

- Anchialine pools

- Coastal strand communities

- Fire regime

- Soundscape

Only one resource – cave and lava tube communities – was considered to be in good condition. Nine resources were given a condition of moderate concern: coqui frogs, subalpine plant communities, montane mesic forest plant communities, coastal strand communities, landbirds, seabirds, Hawaiian hoary bats, endangered and threatened marine vertebrates, and Anchailine pools. Another eight resources were given a rating of significant concern: invasive terrestrial plants, invasive ungulates, invasive small mammals, invasive terrestrial insects, focal native plant taxa, wet forest plant communities, native insect and springtail communities, and fire regime. The remaining three resources air quality, volcanic features and processes, and soundscape – could not be assigned a condition rating. While the park has a long history of repeated data collection for some resources in certain areas of the park, additional data would be useful to determine overall resource conditions. Relatively intact examples of native Hawaiian ecosystems, as well as high biodiversity can be found in many areas of the park.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park also protects and interprets the largest and most continuously active shield volcanoes in the United States and is significant on a national level by serving as a living laboratory for scientific investigations. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is an important refuge for many rare and unique Hawaiian species, and the park should continue to gather monitoring data on them.

For other reports and natural resource datasets visit the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Collection 7765 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Last updated: February 25, 2022


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