U.S. Representatives Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard introduced House H.R. 7045, a measure to pursue the creation of Hawaii’s first-ever National Forest.
Hawai‘i National Forest Study Act would identify parcels of land that could later be incorporated into a National Forest. A 2014 survey identified 9,975 endemic species in Hawai‘i, many of which are reliant on Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem to survive. However, since the onset of human arrival, Hawai‘i has lost almost half of its native forest cover.
“Hawai‘i is the most isolated island chain and one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world,” said Case. “Within our constrained borders, we have ten of the thirteen world climate zones, and ecosystems ranging from the deserts to the tropics where plants and animals that found their way to Hawai‘i evolved like nowhere else.
“Among our truly unique and endangered natural treasures are the only tropical rainforests of any state. Yet we are one of the very few states in our nation which has not recognized its special forest resources with a National Forest designation.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Hawai‘i’s forests are critical parts of our island ecosystems, home to the oldest living ancestors of this place – the flora and fauna that have so much to teach us about how to live sustainably. Our forests protect us from runoff, recharge our aquifers, provide habitat for native species, and connect us spiritually to this ‘āina. We must explore every avenue to protect them.”