The six months of work which comprised the completion of this grant have served to extend and protect native plantings primarily within a southeastern lobe of the Halepua`a section of the Nanawale Forest Reserve near the termination of Papaya Farms Road and the bisection of the Reserve by Railroad Ave. This area has been chosen because of its susceptibility to invasive species (particularly the Little Fire Ant), its accessibility, and its proximity to the out-planting nursery at Hale He`e.
Established trails have been improved, maintained, and extended. Existing plots of native plantings have been maintained, and one significant new plot has been established. In total, forty-eight new native trees and shrubs have been planted, with roughly the same number of existing plantings regularly weeded.
Little Fire Ant (LFA) encroachment continues to be of primary concern: maintenance of two LFA barriers that stretch about a mile consumed 51% of the budget. Without maintaining these barriers, the forest as a place of relaxation and enjoyment would be lost. Strategizing how to meet the onslaught of other identified LFA fronts to the east and the north is of great importance going forward.
ROD (Rapid Ohia Death) damage continues to take a steady toll upon the existing stands of ohia in the forest. I look forward to any information or techniques, such as hybridization or bio-controls, that may emerge to combat this saddening disease.
Experiments with pig protection and plot selection tactics are yielding success. It is vital that the time I am able to devote to planting and maintaining (16% of grant funds) be effective and not generate excessive maintenance demands.
Overall, this period of time has been very fruitful in that it has significantly familiarized me with the geography and biology of the region, the nonnative control challenges present, and the potential for restoration. I have come to love this section of forest, and only wish that the resources existed to care for all of Puna’s remaining lowland forests, rather than the humble section that has come to be my kuleana.