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Hawaiian High Islands Ecoregion
This page last revised 23 August 2006 -- S.M.Gon III

Conservation Targets
TNC Action Sites


Maps & Figures
CPT Database

goats are a threat to cliff systems
Goats are capable of destroying vegetation on even the steepest cliffs.

dry cliff, West Maui
Dry cliffs occur in the leeward portions of the West Maui Mountains.

Dry Cliff System

Natural communities occupyingsteep (>65º) slopes  in regions receiving less than75 inches annual precipitation, or otherwise bearing prevailinglydry substrate conditions comprise the dry cliff system in theHawaiian High Islands Ecoregion. This system is found on theislands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i,Kaho‘olawe, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, and is best developedon the leeward sides of the islands, for example, the steepestportions of the leeward flank of West Maui, the cliffs of EastMoloka‘i, the seacliffs of Lāna‘i andKaho‘olawe, the steeper slopes of the Wai‘anae Mountains(O‘ahu), and the leeward canyonlands of Kaua‘i. It occurstypically below or adjacent to either the lowland mesic system or the lowland dry system.There are a number of naturalcommunities described within this system, typically a variety ofgrasslands and shrublands, the slopes being too steep to supportforests. Biologicaldiversity is low to moderate in this system, and specializedplants occur there, such as Brighamia and Tetramolopium.

Rare tetramolopium on cliffTetramolopium filiforme,an endangered aster, occurs only on dry cliffs of the Wai'anae conservation area on O'ahu. 

Brighamia are cliff-adapted lobeliads
Brighami insignis grows only on the Napali Coast of Kaua'i. Brighamia are cliff-adapted Hawaiian lobeliads with a rosette of leaves atop a thick stem. Photo: Harold St. John.

Dry Cliff system on Kaua'i
The Dry Cliff System on Kaua'i (red outlined shaded areas above) occurs on steep-sided interior canyons and northern seacliffs.

Natural communities and species of this system are listed among nested targets via the appendices.

lehua blossom

The Dry Cliff System in Hawai‘i includes some of the most rugged and steep topography; refugia for many rare plant species.

Dry Cliff System, Hawaii Island
The Dry CliffSystem on Hawai‘i Island(red outlined shaded areas above) occursin only the oldest and most eroded conservation area: Kohala.

Dry Cliff System, Island of Maui
The Dry Cliff System on Maui (red outlined shaded areas above) occurs in both East and West Maui conservation areas.

Dry Cliff System on Lana'i Island
The Dry Cliff System on Lāna'i (red outlined shaded areas above) occurs in steep-sided gulches.

dry cliff system on O'ahu
The Dry Cliff System on O'ahu (red outlined shaded areas above) occurs in the older and more eroded Wai'anae conservation area.