NATIVE DRY LAND FOREST and WETLANDS
Hāmākua and Pu'u o Ehu
Hāmākua Marsh and adjacent larger Kawainui area make up the largest remaining wetland habitat in the State. It is a wildlife sanctuary owned by DLNR and home to four species of endemic and endangered waterbirds.
The area has a rich cultural and geographical history. The area once supported a large native Hawaiian population who managed the resources for both inland fishponds and wetland taro production.
Hāmākua Marsh used to be a stream flowing from Kawainui to Kaʻelepulu (now Enchanted Lake) but the water flow has been diverted. The wetland now marsh depends fully on rainfall and runoff of the Puʻu o Ehu hillside which rises up behing.
Hāmākua Marsh Wildlife Sancturary is now protected conservation space. It naturally provides opportunities to learn about and practice habits that build climate resilient communities. It is a place to study first hand how people and nature can work together to enhance the planet's capacity to sequester and store carbon, while preserving and pretecting cultural and natural resources. Although wetlands account for only about 3% of the earths land surface, they store around one third of all soil carbon. Protecting them keeps that carbon in the ground.
Puʻu o Ehu is the hillside or dryland forested ecosystems connected to Hāmākua wetland. Only 5-10 percent of the dryland forest remains in Hawaiʻi. Here some of the rarest species in the world are found. These native and endemic tress and shrubs additionally sequester more carbon than any of their invasive competetors.
It is imparative that we as community protect and restore our wetland and dry land forests for the health of both people and planet.