Plants & Wildlife
A Barren Beginning
The Hawaiian Archipelago comprises eight "main islands" which make up over 99% of the chain's emergent land area, and about eight clusters of small mostly uninhabited low landmasses of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. There are about 2,500 miles between Hawai'i and the closest large land mass.
The first Hawaiian Islands formed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean via volcanic eruption about 1.2 million years ago and a new island is still forming today off the coast of the island of Hawai'i (a.k.a. the Big Island).
As each island formed, the newly hardened lava rock was barren, without life. Over time, seeds, tiny eggs, insects and birds landed there, often by accident, blown over by jet streams, carried by the ocean waves or on the wings of birds.
Some of these individuals survived; others did not. Those who did adapted to their new environment successfully, evolving over the millennia. We call these the native flora and fauna of Hawai'i.
Hawai'i is home to over 10,000 native species, more than 90% of which are found nowhere else in the world. The West Maui Mountains is home to 126 rare plants, insects, birds, vegetation communities and a bat and scientists continue to find more every year!
Many of these individuals and communities face peril from the silent invasion of introduced species. When our native forests are compromised, so is our source of water, the seeds of Hawaiian culture, and our quality of life.
Find out more about what the watershed does for you, and how you can help.