Maui’s Eucalyptus Blue-Gum are dying… can this be a step towards Native reforestation?!
Maui is a lush tropical paradise of splendor and beauty amongst which are some of the most rare and endemic plant species on Earth. Even though it’s located in the most remote archipelago of the planet, the island has been through a major transformation due to it’s contact with the outside world. By different methods… many invasive plants have found their way to Maui, some being deliberately planted by people.
As the story goes… Years of heavy logging and land clearing for cultivation and ranching, destroyed most native forests on the island. This lead to erosion and drought, forcing Hawaii’s newly established Division of Forestry, to look for alternative solutions.
It was Ralph Hosmer, the first territorial forester, who in 1909 started planting different species of trees (including eucalyptus), imported from all over the world. Hosmer’s Grove, located just inside Haleakala National Park, is an example of this experimental forestation from Hawaii’s territorial days.
Hosmer’s timber plan never succeeded as most of the 86 species planted didn’t survive. But some like the eucalyptus globulus (blue gum eucalyptus) thrived!
The State planted over 4,000 trees, but private landowners and ranchers have also added to the total.
As of the mid-1980’s there was an estimated 100 million board feet of Blue Gum eucalyptus on Maui.
Today, they are mostly seen in the upcountry area, much spread along the roadsides, mainly Olinda and Pi’iholo Roads.
What’s happening to the Eucalytpus Globulus?
It was in 2004 that Will Haines, a UH entomologist, first saw a yellow-green worm eating eucalyptus leaves. This was strange to him as eucalyptus don’t have many pests in Hawaii. After some research he found that this was the larvae of a eucalyptus snout weevil (Gonipterus platensis), never before found in this State.
Today…where new leaves should be growing, we see bare branches.
Added to that, there’s another leaf-eating insect, the eucalyptus tortoise beetle (Paropisterna m-fuscum), which is also weakening the trees.
If trees can’t maintain their new leaves, they can’t photosynthesize and start dying from the tips inward. Soon all the Blue Gums will be dead.
So, if this is an invasive species… why is this a problem?
Even if these two insects help us get rid of invasive trees, it’s making them a huge safety hazard!
As the trees deteriorate, dead branches start falling, possibly over a house, car or person and,
These giants have short roots, making them susceptible to falling due to the strong winds that usually hit the islands, even when healthy! Thus making an unhealthy tree even more likely to fall.
- A small percentage of affected eucalyptus have already died and many of them are in different stages of demise.
- Only one section of dead trees are being funded for removal by the County.
- At this point all other trees are undecided for treatment or removal.
- All private trees are the responsibility of home-owners.
- Let the trees die naturally…and pay the consequences!
- Remove the eucalyptus near and around your home. This is advised to do sooner than later, as a living tree is much simpler and safer to remove than a dead one.
- Prolong the life of the tree until you can afford to remove it, or maybe even save it’s life altogether with Trunk Injections.
- ClimbingHi is the only company actively working on finding a solution to the problem, other than total removal.
- Feel free to call us for more information!
Ultimately, we would like to see a healthy “Native” forest.
That being said, ClimbingHi is promoting reforestation with local Hawaiian trees.
We’ve partnered with experts in your community to look beyond the present and to realize how we can transform our ecosystem into a sustainable woodland that it once was.
Trunk Injections can allow for an extension of the eucalyptus lifespan giving you more time to reforest the area and jumpstart the process.
In this way we can turn this problem into a solution!
Let’s start the conversation!
Mahalo for reading!