New Natural Area Reserve is closest to urban Honolulu
A roughly 300-acre parcel mauka (upland) of the Hawaiʻi Loa and Niu Valley subdivisions has been officially designated as a new Hawai‘i State Natural Area Reserve. Governor David Ige signed an Executive Order on Feb. 3, creating the Pia Valley NAR.
Natural Area Reserves, are managed by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and have the highest levels of protection to ensure current and future generations can continue to experience incredible places that make Hawaiʻi unique.
Two species of rare tree snails and Cyrtandra gracilis, a white-flowered shrub, are only known to occur in Pia Valley. Twenty-nine rare species of plants and wildlife are found in the unique Pia forest, including the curious ʻelepaio bird. The NAR can be accessed via the Hawaiʻi Loa Ridge Trail, managed by the Nā Ala Hele trail system.
The NAR System seeks to keep these forests as intact as possible, in order to preserve plants and wildlife that evolved over millennia to become unique to the islands. Protection of these species perpetuates the cultural practices that evolved with these ancient landscapes. These native Hawaiian forests absorb rain, and provide life-giving water while reducing erosion into the beaches and reefs below.
Pia was donated to the DLNR by landowner Patricia Godfrey. “This small native forest, found directly above an East Oʻahu neighborhood, is part of a larger watershed that we must protect,” she said. “I hope everyone will stand up for these amazing lands so near to our backyards and contribute to protecting Hawaiʻi’s native plants and animals from extinction.”
People interested in supporting the NAR System can do so via online. Donations will support actions such as planting native trees or removing invasive species that can wipe out the last known individuals of extremely rare species. This support is critical for local conservation work and the protection of these most pristine Hawaiian lands and waters.