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Rare Ecosystems
When Watersheds are Destroyed

Nature's Collection Basin

What is a watershed?  A watershed is a geographic area such as a mountain or valley that collects rain water and drains to a common outlet like a river, an aquifer, or the ocean. Topography--the shape of the land--influences how water moves toward the ocean via rivers, streams, or via movement underground.

In Hawai'i, every ahupua'a is essentially its own watershed, being comprised of a valley and stream system that supports all life within its boundaries.  The most robust watersheds--the most fertile ahupua'a--are those that are densely vegetated by native forests.  With their many layers of canopy and sub-canopy trees, understory shrubs, ferns, groundcovers, and mosses, our native forests are giant living sponges that soak up rainfall and catch moisture from passing clouds.  The rainwater and fog drip that our forests collect serve to recharge our aquifers and feed our streams, thus providing a dependable source of clean water for our islands.

The West Maui Watershed

The watershed vegetation of the West Maui Mountains is a fabric of thousands of native plants, birds, snails, insects and other invertebrates.  Each of these native Hawaiian species has value as a source of unique genetic information.  Many plants are still used today for lei, hula, tapa dyes, medicine, and other practices.  Native species are essential to the preservation of Hawaiian culture.


Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships

Established in 2003, HAWP is led by representatives from each of the 10 watershed partnerships in Hawaii.  The mission of  HAWP is to increase the effective management and protection of mauka (upper elevation) watershed areas by raising the capacity of Watershed Partnerships, facilitating sharing of watershed management expertise, building public support for protecting watershed values, and developing sustainable funding sources.  Along with WMMWP, HAWP's members include these watershed partnerships:

East Maui Watershed Partnership

East Molokai Watershed Partnership

Kaua'i Watershed Alliance

Kohala Watershed Partnership

Ko'olau Mountains Watershed Partnership

Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership

Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance

Three Mountain Alliance

Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership