Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Nature and Science

At 33,000 acres, the Park's tropical rain forest is the largest federal tract in the United States. Rain descends on towering tree ferns and majestic trees in huge amounts; up to twelve feet in an average year. G. Brad Lewis

Well-known for its volcanic significance, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is also one of the most fascinating biologic landscapes in the world. Located over 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the Hawaiian Archipelago is the most geographically isolated group of islands on Earth. The Park sits on the southeastern edge of the youngest and largest island of Hawai'i at a latitude of 19N.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is a vertical Park. Stretching from the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet to sea level, the Park protects a wide diversity of ecosystems and habitat. Numerous native Hawaiian species such carnivorous caterpillars, happy face spiders and colorful Hawaiian honeycreepers began to evolve over 70 million years ago in nearly complete isolation.Over 90% of the native terrestrial flora and fauna in Hawai'i are found only in the Hawaiian islands. This level of endemism surpasses all other places on Earth; even the Galapagos Islands. Consequently, the Park is a fantastic laboratory for the study of biogeography and evolution within the Pacific Islands.

Unfortunately, the Park's treasure trove of species faces decimating threats. Declining habitat outside Park boundaries, invasive plants, bird malaria, wildfires, feral cats and pigs, and introduced goats, sheep, rats, mongoose, ants, and wasps are all taking a toll.

To protect and restore Park ecosystems and protect cultural resources, the Division of Resources Management is dedicated to the following goals:

  1. Remove alien invasive species with primary focus on highly disruptive weeds and introduced ungulates such as sheep, goats, and pigs.

  2. Restore highly altered Park ecosystems to conditions as natural as practical through extensive plantings of seedlings.

  3. Restore lost biodiversity in Park ecosystems by recovering endangered, threatened, and rare species and reintroducing locally extirpated species.

  4. Develop a systematic, science-based program of inventory and monitoring to better understand ecosystem populations, communities, threats, stresses, and health.

  5. Maintain and expand Park partnerships with neighbors for natural and cultural resource protection to target invasive species threatening parklands.

  6. Focus on recovery for four endangered species; the nene, Hawaiian petrel, hawksbill turtle and Mauna Loa silversword as flagship programs for the Park with continued monitoring of all rare and threatened plant and animal species.
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