Maui News

UH: Forest Conservation Could Save $1.4M to Maui Water

October 16, 2019, 9:58 AM HST
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UHERO team at Waikamoi with The Nature Conservancy. PC: University of Hawaiʻi

Preventing the degradation of the native forest and facilitation of conservation efforts could save the local water utility up to $1.4 million and make important contributions to local water supplies in East Maui according to research conducted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The finding was made by UH researchers who evaluated how native forest conservation contributes to local water supplies in a water stressed area in the Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi preserve in East Maui, Hawaiʻi’s largest private nature reserve.

The UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and Water Resources Research Center partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi to conduct the study.  The UHERO team simulated the groundwater recharge benefits with and without conservation actions over 100 years.

UH researchers say tropical forest conservation around the world “provides many benefits, including supporting a diversity of flora and fauna and ecosystem services such as clean water and carbon isolation.”

“Biocultural values and livelihoods associated with tropical forests are also increasingly put forth as restoration objectives, however, funding for tropical forest conservation remains limited and insufficient to meet the challenge of rapid biodiversity loss,” according to University researchers.

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UH researchser say “tropical forest conservation and restoration is often one strategy of watershed service programs, but a major challenge is a lack of data on the potential water benefits and cost savings associated with watershed conservation efforts.”

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Click here for more on the forest conservation study.

UHERO graduate student Sarah Medoff hikes in the Waikamoi preserve. PC: University of Hawaiʻi.

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