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Hawaiian High Islands Ecoregion
This page last revised 01 September 2006 -- S.M.Gon III  

Conservation Targets
TNC Action Sites


Maps & Figures
CPT Database

native forest, head of Pelekunu Valley
Montane wet forest on the edge of Pelekunu Valley, Kamakou Preserve.

local community interest on Moloka‘i
The Moloka‘i community is extremely involved in the management of the island's Conservation Area.

Rare natural community
The leeward slopes of East Moloka‘i descend into lowland mesic shrublands.

feral pig
Non-native pigs, escaped into the wild, pose a threat to native ecosystems, but are also a local food source.

happyface spider
Anuntold number of native invertebrates, such as this Hawaiian happyfacespider, are nested within East Moloka‘i native ecosystems.

East Moloka‘i
Conservation Area Profile

Major Habitat Type: Tropical Moist Forest(Oceania Realm)

Stratification Unit:Maui Nui (comprised of the islands of Maui, Moloka‘i,Kaho‘olawe, and Lāna‘i; of similargeological age and sharing biodiversity via geological history thatcombined all as a single large island during a lower stand of the sea).

Island:Moloka‘i; the fifth largestisland of the archipelago, ca 1.8 million years old, maximum elevation1514 m(4,970 ft), comprised of a single native dominated landscapecorresponding to the largest volcanic mass on the island, the EastMoloka‘i Volcano. Approximately 7,000 human residents.

Significance: The East Moloka‘i Conservation Area is comprised of ecological systems from lowland to montaneelevations. The summit area and undeveloped north side maintain high viability systems, are animportant watershed, and contain over 50 native natural communities (four of which are unique to Moloka‘i). East Moloka‘i supports 248 Hawaiian endemic species offlowering plants, 25 of which are endemic to the island, and 39 ofwhich are endangered. 

ConservationStatus: The East Moloka‘i Conservation Area is protected and managed by acombination of private and public protected areas, including Kalaupapa National Historical ParkPu‘u Ali‘i StateNatural Area Reserve, Oloku‘i State Natural Area Reserve (one of the last native forest areas naturally ungulate free), the State Forest ReserveSystem, and the State Conservation District. The East Moloka‘i Watershed Partnership,comprised of a combination of the above lands with selected lands ownedand/ormanaged by Kamehameha Schools; Kapualei Ranch and Kawela Plantation Homeowners Association; Ke Aupuni Lōkahi Enterprise Community Governance Board;Hawai‘iDepartment of Health; State Division of Forestry and Wildlife;Kalaupapa National Historical Park; Maui County; Maui Board of WaterSupply; Moloka‘i-Lana‘i Soil and Water ConservationDistrict; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; US Fish & WildlifeService; US Geological Survey; US Environmental Protection Agency; andThe Nature Conservancy. A management plan has been drafted that implementsfencing, ungulate control, and weed control, ignoring land jurisdictionboundariesand dealing with the major threats. Such actions are included in a discussion of Moloka‘i conservation strategies.

For more detailed information, contact the Moloka‘i Office of The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i

Olokui and East Molokai area
Oloku‘i Plateau, between Wailau and Pelekunu Valleys, Moloka‘i
Cover image for the East Moloka‘i Conservation Area Plan

Major Threats:Uncontrolledferal ungulates (primarily pigs, goats, deer); a variety ofestablished and potential habitat-modifying alien plants, and wildfire at lower dry and mesic settings. 

wildfire in East Moloka`i
Wildfire is a serious threat in the East Moloka‘i Conservation Area

Continuous Perennial Stream, Pelekunu ValleyHawaiian Continuous Perennial Stream, Pelekunu Valley, Moloka‘i

Conservation Targets:

Ecological Systems: Three ecological systems of Moloka‘i were selected as conservationtargets, each bearing nested natural communities and species (discussedbelow).

System Size Condition LC Overall

Otherecological systems were either ranked poor in viability (and thus notincluded) or were ranked fair, but were not selected in lieu of otherhigher-ranked Maui Nui representatives of those systems.

Natural Communities:

  • Continuous Perennial Stream Community
Selected stream occurrences: Moloka‘i bears manyhigh quality streams, and the four streams selected:  Wailau, Pelekunu, Waikolu, and Hālawa Streams are among thelargest and highest quality streams on the island (Hawai‘i Stream As­ses­s­ment 1991). Eachbears a rich complement of native macrofauna and high volume, high qualitywater in a channel with high structural heterogeneity.

Special Ecological Features:

  • Waterbird Concentration
Moloka‘i is part of the Maui Nui Waterbird Concentration, defined as three core wetlands and at least five of seven supporting wetland sites identified by the USFWSWaterbird Recovery Plan (2005). These include coastal and lowlandsites outside of the ecological system targets.

Nested Targets (Selected examples):

  • Natural Communities:
‘Ōhi‘a/Uluhe Lowland Wet Forest
‘Ōhi‘a/Mixed Shrub Lowland Wet Forest
‘Ōhi‘a/Mixed Shrub Montane Wet Forest
‘Ōhi‘a/‘Ōlapa Montane Wet Forest
‘Ōhi‘a Mixed Lowland Mesic Shrubland
Pleomele Lowland Mesic Forest
Hawaiian Montane Bog
Mixed Fern/Shrub Wet Cliff Community
Mixed Shrub Dry Cliff Community
Montane Piping Cave Community

  • Native species:

There are manyconstituent native species that comprise the natural communities of the ConservationArea. Highlights include more than 16 rare/endangered plant species, over 150 endemicflowering plant species, and an untold number of endemic invertebrate species likelynumbering in the thousands.


Thenative-dominated ecological systems of Moloka‘i  occupy itsremote and largely trackless central region, extending downward into areas (pink) converted into anthropogenic andalien-dominated regions.

Ecological systems of Moloka'i

The conservationportfolio for East Moloka'i includes the higher elevation native-dominatedecological systems (dark green), and four occurrences of the Hawaiian continuous perennialstream natural community (Waikolu, Pelekunu, Wailau, and Hālawa) shown in light blue.
East Moloka‘i Conservation Area
A crosssection of the Island of Moloka‘i indicates the variety of moistureand elevation conditions present: montane wet summit areas areflanked by lowland and coastal/marine systems. elevation and moisture settings of Kaua‘i