Monsanto Fund Donates $20,000 for Molokai Watershed Protection
Monsanto Molokai News Release
The Monsanto Fund awarded a $20,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Hawaii for watershed protection at Kamakou Preserve on Molokai. Since 2006, the Monsanto Fund has contributed a total of $130,000 to TNC’s protection and restoration efforts of critical watershed and fragile ecosystems on Molokai.
Located high in the mountains of East Molokai, the 2,774-acre Kamakou Preserve is a rainforest like no other on the planet. This magnificent natural treasure not only shelters hundreds of native plants and animals, but also serves as an important source of water for the island and its people.
TNC’s work at Kamakou Preserve, in collaboration with the public and private landowners of the East Molokai Watershed Partnership, is focused on invasive animal and weed control.
“Molokai’s forested watersheds today are under constant assault from established and new invasive species,” said Ed Misaki, TNC’s Molokai Program Director. “Feral ungulates (hoofed animals) like wild pigs, goats and deer are steadily eroding fragile topsoil. Once this soil disturbance occurs, invasive plants that did not evolve here, like blackberry and strawberry guava, steadily displace our native forests and watersheds. Once lost, they may be impossible to fully restore at any price.”
HONOLULU – Deer can swim, but not very far. When they showed up for the first time on the Big Island of Hawaii, mystified residents wondered how they got there.
The island is some 30 miles southeast of Maui, where deer are plentiful.
Hawaii wildlife authorities think someone dropped a few from a helicopter on the northern tip of the island. And tracks along the southern coast indicate deer were pushed into the ocean from a boat and forced to paddle ashore.
Whether they arrived by air or sea, wildlife managers want to eradicate them to avoid a repeat of the destruction seen on other islands where they ate through vineyards, avocado farms and forests where endangered species live.
Officials estimate that there are 100 deer on the northern and southern ends of the Big Island. A government-funded group is leading efforts to get rid of them before they breed.
“They didn’t get here by themselves, so the people who brought them over did so and have done it many times,” said Jan Schipper, the group’s project manager.
People have reported seeing deer on the Big Island for a while, but it wasn’t until a motion-sensor camera captured a photo of one last year that their presence was confirmed.
Axis deer, called chital in their native India, are similar in size to whitetail deer found in the continental U.S. Tigers and leopards keep axis deer numbers reasonable in India, but the deer population is growing 20 to 30 percent per year in Hawaii because there aren’t any natural predators.
The deer first came to Hawaii in the 1860s as a gift from Hong Kong to the monarch who ruled at the time, King Kamehameha V. They were first taken to Molokai.
In the 1950s, some deer were taken to Maui as part of post-World War II efforts to introduce mammals to different places
Brazilian insect could slow growth of nonnative strawberry guava tree
The state is once again seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree.
Acres already densely infested
Acres of native forest areas that could become densely infested at current rates of growth
Acres of native forest not yet threatened
The state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today, and the public will have 30 days to weigh in on the controversial bio-control initiative, which has been hotly debated for the past two years.
The assessment notes that the nonnative strawberry guava, which does not have a natural predator in Hawaii, crowds out native plants and animals and reduces the amount of water in soil, streams and groundwater systems by as much as 50 percent during dry periods. According to information cited in the study, strawberry guava also threatens Hawaiian archaeological sites and supports the proliferation of fruit flies, which can damage commercial produce.
"At its current trajectory, strawberry guava will take over all native plants statewide unless something is done," said Christy Martin, public information officer for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, which coordinates alien pest responses by the state departments of Agriculture, Health, Land and Natural Resources and other agencies.