Why Protect Forested Watersheds?
Watch a short 2 minute video below:
Read more about forested watersheds in The Last Stand: The Vanishing Hawaiian Forest).
At no cost to us, forested watersheds:
- Recharge our water supply and help with droughts by collecting rainwater which flows underground into our aquifers supplying residents and communities as well as agriculture and businesses with their water needs
- Protect oceans for swimming and fishing by controlling erosion and run-off as the roots of trees and other vegetation help to hold soils to keep them from flowing down into oceans and impacting coral reefs, fisheries, and swimming areas
- Mitigate flooding as forests help to slow down water flow
- Provide habitat for Hawaii’s unique plants and animals that can be found no where else in the world
- Supply culturally important plants and animals to continue traditions such as hula, storytelling, and medicine
- Serve as recreational and educational places for communities and schools
- Protect public health by providing clean water and air
- Supports the economy through providing watershed management related jobs, opportunities for businesses for needed supplies and materials, and eco-tourism
- Mitigate the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxides.
A University of Hawai’i study estimates the Ko’olau Mountains on O’ahu alone provide watershed services worth up to $14 billion. Consider the cost of replicating any of these essential services through technology or engineering to understand how important our forested watersheds are important to both Hawaii’s economy and its communities.
If we don’t protect our watersheds, we may see increased headlines like the ones below in our local papers.
How are Watershed Partnerships Protecting Our Watersheds
Over one million acres of critical forestlands are under the different Watershed Partnerships. These areas provide billions of gallons of water to various communities on each island. Watershed Partnerships work to target the main threats of feral ungulates (hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, deer) which destroy forest vegetation leaving grounds bare and soils exposed, invasive weed species which can take over a native forest and impact its efficacy in water collection, wildfires, and forest pests and disease = all of which impact forest health and functionality.