Hawaii's Dry Forests | WWF

Hawaii's Dry Forests

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: Hawaii tropical low shrublands; Hawaii tropical dry forests; and Hawaii tropical high shrublands.

The Hawaiin dry forests harbor a number of dry forest specialist species including native hibiscus trees and several rare endemics. Approximately 22% of native Hawaiian plant species are found in this ecoregion. Coastal and lowland dry shrublands occur on the lowest leeward slopes of the higher Hawaiian Islands and on all but the summit regions of Lana'i, Kaho'olawe, and Ni'ihau. Hawaiian high shrublands range from open shrublands to alpine grasslands and deserts.

10,000 sq. km (3,900 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Central North Pacific Ocean: Hawaiian Islands

Conservation Status:

Local Species
The Hawaiian Lowland Shrublands have an amazing amount of endemic plants that are found only in this ecoregion-more than 90%! Plant diversity is high, with more than 200 species. These include grassland species of Sporobolus and Lepturus, and mixed shrublands with species such as Ilima (Sida Cordifolio), 'A'ali'i (Dodonaea eriocarpa) and Maó (Gossypium sandwicense).

Examples of extraordinary plant species include members of the extremely rare and endemic Gouanaia genus. Common species include Erythrina sandwicensis, Diospyros sandwicensis, Reynoldsia sandwicensis and Nothocestrum spp. Also found here is the palila (Loxioides bailleui), an endangered finch-like bird.

The Hawaiian nene goose (Branta sandvicensis) lives in high shrubland areas, and endangered Hawaiian dark-rumped petrels nest in burrows in subalpine and alpine cinderlands.

Featured Species

The Nene (or Hawaiian) Goose (Branta sandvicensis) is the state bird of Hawaii and endemic to the archipelago. The Nene in some ways resembles its closest living relative, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis) although the Nene is smaller in size, reaching lengths of 53-66 cm (21-26 in). The Nene has yellow-buff cheeks and black feathers on the back of its neck, the top of its head, and its face. Diagonal rows of creamy-white feathers form deep furrows along its neck.

Males and females are similar in size and markings. The Nene's calls include a muted 'moo' and a loud 'haw'. The breeding season, which is perhaps the longest breeding season of all gooses, extends from November until June with incubation lasting 30 days and the chicks fledging after 10 to 12 weeks. This extended breeding season contributes to the Nene's susceptibility to introduced predators, with mongooses, feral cats and dogs often feeding on Nene eggs and young.

It is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and its population has recovered from a low of around 30 to around 3,000, largely thanks to captive breeding programmes.

Read more:
Clearing and burning of lowland dry forests began with the arrival of Polynesians and the last remnants are being destroyed today through continued development, expansion of agriculture and pasture, and burning.

Over 90% of the Lowland Shrublands has been lost due to human development and alien vegetation. Fire, weed invasions, feral animals, especially goats and deer, threaten the stability of this ecoregion.
WWF's work
WWF's Global Forest Programme is working to conserve the world's forests by following 3 main principles: protection, to ensure forests are effectively managed and monitored; responsible forestry, reducing illegal logging and habitat destruction; and restoration – reversing the loss of habitats.

WWF's Global Forests Programme and the WWF Network works in partnership with governments, government aid agencies, NGOs, communities and private industry, to implement innovative and tangible solutions.

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