When visiting the island of Lanai, we were surprised to see just how dry it was. Like many tropical islands we have traveled to around the world, we have noticed how man has decimated every piece of land he takes over. With little regard for the future, early settlers ruined many an ecosystem around the world and the Hawaiian Islands are no different.
It’s a story we have heard time and time again, when Europeans settled in the islands, they brought in their plants and animals from their homeland and sat by as they quickly wiped out the native flora and fauna. Ferrel cats ran rampant over the land killing birds, and invasive species spread uncontrollably. In the case of Lanai, pineapples were grown on nearly every inch of cultivatable land leaving black plastic embedded in the soil. Needless to say, this trend didn’t bode well for wildlife or native forests of Lanai.
It isn’t well known, but the beautiful island of Lanai does not receive a lot of rainfall throughout the year. Instead, it relies on fog drip in the highlands. Native plants capture the dew from the low hanging clouds and the water seeps through the soil into the watershed below. This is where Lanai gets it’s water from and native plants are needed to make the ecosystem run smoothly.
That is why the work of the Lanai Native Species Recovery Program is so important for the island. Especially when Lanai has two golf courses to water and keep green while the rest of the island works on conserving and praying for rain. (Here we go again, Man creating problems for Mother Nature any way that it can.)
We met Christine downtown in Lanai City to take a drive up Munro Trail to check out the work they’ve been doing to bring back the native flora and fauna of the island. Christine was just like here daughter Charity who we met a few days earlier at the Lanai Cultural Centre – Bubbly, friendly and always smiling.
We were excited to check out some different parts of the island that are for the most part, off limits to tourists due to the road conditions. We actually managed to get ourselves stuck during the tour, and Christine had to call one of her guys to drive up the mountain to give us a tow. It was quite muddy up there and even a rugged 4X4 truck couldn’t make it through the deep sludge. While attempting to turn around, we quickly sunk into the deep mud and showed no sign of getting out of there.
No problem though, we were stuck in Paradise. With stunning views of neighbouring islands Molokei and Maui, we had a Panoramic view of the entire island.
The program’s efforts are paying off and they have managed through various efforts to control the invasive species and bring back the native plants to a healthy level. It is promising to drive up to the fog line and see just how green and lush the island is.
With the removal of invasive species, the native plants can do the job they were meant to do and instead of depleting the soil of all it’s nutrients, they contribute the eco-system catching water and spreading it to where it needs to go.
The native species recovery program isn’t just for plants, it is also working to bring back the Hawaiian Petrel, a bird species that is high on the endangered list. We learned about the Petrel when we visited the Lanai Animal Rescue Centre. A group of residents from the island took it upon themselves to round up the ferrel cats and create a sanctuary for them. It is helping Lanai’s eco-system and giving the cats a loving and safe place to live. Between the humane reduction of the bird’s main predator and the reintroduction of native forest, the birds numbers are holding steady.
There is a long way to go, but the residents of Lanai understand just how special their home is and are working hard to make it survive and thrive for future generations to enjoy the beautiful islands of Hawaii. We think the future looks promising and with the hard work and passion for the island that the Lanai Native Species Recovery Program employees have, they just may succeed in
To find our more about the Lanai Native species Recovery Program visit their website