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‘Invasive’ Ironwoods?

We need to use caution when we try to improve on nature.

March 4, 2010
Commentary contributed by Isao Nakagawa · Nāpili

Take for example, the “invasive” ironwood trees that were growing on Hawea, Makaluapuna Point and surrounding coastal areas. These tree roots were home to the protected ‘ua‘u kani, but were cut down because a corporation labeled them as invasive. Cutting down the trees resulted in unobstructed ocean views, an added benefit to the landowners. The negative effects include erosion, contaminated dust and poison control on coastal conservation land that is also habitat to the protected ‘ua‘u kani (wedge-tailed shearwater). It also changes the microclimate by allowing strong winds and harsh conditions to affect remaining plants in previously protected areas.

Last year, the native plants that had been planned to take the place of the ironwoods did not thrive, the naupaka is dying, an old a‘ali‘i has died—and what of the ‘ua‘u kani’s habitat?

This year, with the irrigation lines being added, the native plants are doing better, but what happens when the irrigation is removed during ‘ua‘u kani’s breeding season? The coastal trails have attracted hundreds of uninformed hikers to this area, further disturbing the ‘ua‘u kani and endangering hikers during times of high surf.



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