Lanai, Hawaii – Fixing a Fragile Eco System

Written By: The Planet D

When visiting the island of Lanai in Hawaii, 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 European settlers of Hawaii 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.

The Island of Lanai

fragile ecosystem of lanai hawaii

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 its 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 was so important for the island. Read more of The Most Amazing Facts About Hawaii

Golf Courses on Lanai

golf course lanai hawaii

Especially when Lanai has two golf courses to water and to 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 in 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 her daughter Charity who we met a few days earlier at the Lanai Cultural Centre – Bubbly, friendly and always smiling.

lanai conservation program

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.

island of lanai hawaii

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 neighboring islands Molokai and Maui, we had a Panoramic view of the entire island.

Lanai Native Species Recovery Program

conservation in the hawaiian island of lanai

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 its nutrients, they contribute to the eco-system catching water and spreading it to where it needs to go.

Wildlife of Lanai

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.

Ferrel Cats on Lanai

lanai cat sanctuary kittens

A group of residents from the island took it upon themselves to round up the feral cats and create a sanctuary for them. It is helping Lanai’s ecosystem 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 for Lanai.

Our trip to Lanai was made possible by the Lanai Vistors Bureau where we were a part of the New Media Artists in Residence program for Travel Blogs.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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6 thoughts on “Lanai, Hawaii – Fixing a Fragile Eco System”

  1. I always enjoy reading your posts. I appreciate the animal welfare work. It is good to know that there are people out there who care for the environment and our animals. They hold a special function in the eco- system. You seem like frequent travelers, have you ever consider travelling to the Caribbean? Given that you have a genuine appreciation for nature, you will be delighted by the mineral baths, multiple water falls and the few animal reserve parks on the various islands. I got the best hotel and travel deals for my Caribbean trip on this really cool site.

  2. That’s sad to hear what’s happened to the environment but it’s always encouraging to know there are people who are willing to put in the work to try to fix things.

    • Thanks Emily, Yes. We love cats, but when they start taking over the eco-system it can wreak havoc. It’s wonderful to have an organization like the animal rescue centre of Lanai.