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Forests – the Fabric of a Healthy Community

2003 marks the 100th anniversary of the State’s forestry program and has been designated “The Year of the Hawaiian Forest.” Hawaiian forests represent one of Hawaii’s magnificent treasures––a treasure that must be cared for.

Forest should be managed for many reasons.

  • generationsFuture generations deserve to have forests
  • Forestry provides jobs
  • Wood is part of everyday life—We need and enjoy products from trees
  • Forests need care
  • That is what foresters do—Foresters care for the land
  • In this “Year of the Hawaiian Forest” the most important thing to remember is that—“Trees Grow.” They are a renewable resource.
  • Forestry in Hawaii is very different from other places. And in Hawaii we live and work much closer to the forest than most people on the Mainland or in many other parts of the world.

The forest enriches our lives by providing opportunities for camping, hunting, hiking and other activities.

We depend on forest products, such as wood, to build our homes and to create beautiful art.

We extract things from the forest – water, wood products and unique Hawaiian products like ilima and maile. The forest is important. It provides us with water, clean air, and adds to the overall quality of our lives. It also keeps the soil in place, otherwise, wind and water will carry away the thin mantle of soil upon which our existence depends.

Forest contribute to biodiversity––the total variability of all forms of life on this planet.

homeHarvesting and gathering of forest products should be done in the spirit of malama ‘aina, caring for the land. We have a responsibility to replace what we remove from the forest. Maile and other forest plants can grow back if harvested properly. Trees can be planted to replace those which are harvested or lost due to old age or disturbances.

Invasive species can inadvertently be brought into the forest through activities such as hiking and hunting. We need to make an effort to prevent the spread and introduction of such species, which damage ecosystems.

“Rain on leaves today is water in your glass tomorrow.” Some forests serve as watershed areas, capturing our water.

waterfallThe importance of the watershed was recognized by the earliest Polynesian settlers and continues today. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, forested watersheds perform four crucial functions. As an umbrella, the leaves, branches and understory plants catch water before it hits the ground. As a soil anchor, a diverse cover of plants and root systems holds soil, regulates water flows, and filters sediments. As a sponge, the forest allows rain to soak into the soil. And the forest completes the water cycle through evapotranspiration. Forests contribute to the quality of our air, removing carbon dioxide and giving us oxygen to breathe.

Clean air and water are essential to farming.

Forests provide a home to wildlife and other plants, stabilize a recreational landscape, provide natural beauty, and enhance our surroundings.

If we want our children and future generations to enjoy forests and forest products, each of us must take an active role.

In Hawai‘i, over 10 million tree seedlings have been planted since 1995.
The U.S. has 20 percent more trees today than it did on the first Earth Day celebration 25 years ago, according to the American Forest and Paper Association.

nickHawaii forester Nick Dudley being interviewed by Hawaii Public Radio for Arbor Day

back to topForestry provides many exciting jobs.

  • Forester
  • Woodworker
  • Ecotour Guide
  • Landscape Architect
  • Recreation Specialist
  • Fire Management Specialist
  • Hydrologist
  • Mapmaker
  • And many others

$28.9 million of products are processed from $800,000 of raw materials. Additionally, the average wages of those in the forest industry are 51% higher than those in farm labor, bringing the payroll to $30 million.

koa tableHawaii’s woodworkers create highly valued products from wood grown in our forests.

Wood products provide us with many things we need and use daily.

wood posterSome of the commercial trees grown in Hawai‘i are pictured in this poster. It features color photos of 25 wood species including ten variations of koa. This poster is available by downloading an order from off this website at

Caring for and managing forests reduces the impact of fires and controls the invasive species problem.

Forestry is the art and science of managing trees for different purposes, including preservation, commercial harvest and wildlife habitat.

Foresters are trained professionals who care for the land.

Native forests need to be protected where they are located and new forests can be planted on idle or unproductive land.

Well-managed forests can help Hawai‘i develop a sustainable and diverse economy based upon a renewable resource with minimal impact on the environment.

arborday posterPlanting, Managing and Harvesting at the appropriate point in the tree’s life cycle results in a Healthy and Productive forest for the future.

Forests––the Fabric of a Healthy Community

“Rains always follow the forest.” (Hahai no ka ua I ka ulula ‘au.) Without the rains, there is no water and with no water, there is no life. Hawaiian forests are one of Hawaii’s magnificent treasures.

Hawai‘i has the oldest forest service west of the Mississippi. The Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association invites you to join us in celebrating “The Year of the Hawaiian Forest!”

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