How We Protect the Watershed

“The Ko’olau Mountains Watershed Partnership recognizes that the watershed encompassing the Ko’olau Mountains is an invaluable resource for the island of O’ahu that must be preserved and protected.  It is an integral component of the present and future water supply of the island of O’ahu.  Proper management of the forested watershed area and its native ecosystems is needed to protect the usefulness and value of the watershed in perpetuity.” — KMWP mission statement

In addition to the mission statement above, the KMWP is guided by its Memorandum of Understanding as well as its Ko’olau Mountains Watershed Partnership Management Plan.  All projects are decided and agreed upon by the KMWP and funded by grants (federal, state, and private) as well as by in-kind services provided by partners.

The boundary of the KMWP is the old forest reserve boundary that was established in the early 1900s.  The KMWP boundary area consists of approximately 111,407 acres, of which 100,484 acres are in the partnership.

Major threats facing the Ko’olau Mountains are feral ungulates (hooved animals such as goats and pigs), invasive weed species, wildfire, and forest pest and diseases.

Management is focused on the following four major areas, which are all targeted to mitigate these threats:


Given limited resources and the large nature of threats across the landscape, planning is critical to ensure that management actions are targeted to be most effective.  In addition to its management plan, the KMWP also develops an action plan and annually reviews its targets and progress to assess against goals and any adaptive management required as a result of lessons learned from projects and by partners and staff.


Core programs revolve around feral ungulate control, invasive weed control, water resource protection, and biodiversity protection. Examples include mapping over 80% of the Ko’olau summit areas for invasive weeds, establishing ungulate transects and setting pig corral traps, developing an ahupua’a stream monitoring project, monitoring 18 acres of outplanted native plants, and surveying 34 acres of degraded areas for potential restoration.


This focus encompasses both outreach to communities as well as outreach internally to partner members to increase knowledge of watershed management and the protection of native forests.  Examples include partner field trips to learn on-the-ground management techniques, conducting six hunts with community hunters, attending outreach events, conducting work exchanges with other island Watershed Partnerships, and working with 45 elementary school children on native forest restoration.


We can’t do it alone and that’s why partnering is a critical part of protecting our forested watershed. These include work trips and joint projects with the O’ahu Invasive Species Committee, O’ahu Plant Extinction Prevention Program, and participating in Hawai’i Association of Watershed Partnership activities.