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NEW, July 2012! Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS):

Data Regarding The Conservation Value of the `A`A flow in Wailea 670

Compiled by Lee Altenberg, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawai`i at Manoa
February 6, 2007


  1. Hawaiian low-elevation dryland forest is one of the most highly endangered ecosystems in the United States. 95% of this ecosystem has been destroyed by fire and cattle. All the remnants of this ecosystem on Maui occur on recent (4000-12000 year old) a`a lava flows, which keep the vegetation sparse enough to survive fires in the surrounding areas, and prevent suffocation by invasive alien grasses.

  2. Among the remnants of this ecosystem on Maui, Wailea 670 contains the 4th largest contguous area of wiliwili forest, approximately 110 acres in the southern 1/6 of the property.

  3. In there northern 5/6 of the property, there is only one endemic species—a few straggler wiliwili trees. In the southern 1/6 of the property, there are 12 endemic species of plants, as well as 8 indigenous species.

  4. While all of these endemic species survive in only small fraction of their original numbers, two of them are exceedingly rare.

  5. The original plan to develop Wailea and Makena as a resort were drawn up at a time when little political value was placed on preserving native ecosystems in Hawaii. Thus, there was no evaluation given as to how the plans would threaten the suriving remnants of the wiliwili ecosystem. Today, much better data is available, and the public places a much higher value of the preservation of nature. However, the County approval process still does not provide resources for evaluating the impact of planned development on natural resources. Therefore, it falls upon developers and the public—individuals or organizations—to provide the County with the necessary information.

  6. The owner's representative, Charlie Jencks, acknowledges the conservation issues involved with the awikiwiki. His mitigation plan is to preserve a total of 6 of the 110 acres as habitat, and cultivate the native species as landscaping. This, however, is a completely ad hoc mitigation plan, and not a current best-practice management plan for conservation. No conservation agency or organization would accept 95% destruction of critical habitat as an adequate conservation plan.

  7. The County Council can vote to transfer the existing development rights for the area comprising the remnant wiliwili forest to the rest of the development, and put this area into a conservation easement, as has been done with other areas of high conservation value on Maui.

Supporting Data

Below is some of the basic information about the site and its habitat value.

Wailea 670 concept plan, with overlay of proposed Reserve area (purple border), and waypoints marking native plants. Top points east.

Closeup of GPS waypoints marking native Hawaiian plants. Labels are GSP### for GenusSPecies. Top points north.

Map showing the known sites on Maui for Canavalia pubescens, awikiwiki. Source: Dr. Jonathan Price.

Map showing (orange dots) the three known sites on Maui for Lipochaeta rockii, Rock's nehe. The left-most is Wailea 670 to Palauea. Note that all sites are on lava flows shown in lime green, being 5,000 to 10,000 years old. Sources: Lava flow map, Dr. Jonathan Price. Sites: Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii, Bob Hobdy.

Morphological differences between two Maui populations of Lipochaeta rockii. Previously these two populations were regarded as two unique species. Photographs by Forest Starr, Lee Altenberg.
Lipochaeta rockii var. dissecta, Pu`u O Kali
Lipochaeta rockii, Wailea 670

The pre-settlement range of wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) forest, best current estimate. Source: Dr. Jonathan Price.

Map showing remnant wiliwili forests on Maui as of 2005. Source: Dr. Jonathan Price.

Wiliwili trees in Wailea 670. Height is approximately 35 feet. Despite the gall wasp infestation evident in the trees, these wiliwili trees are managing to develop leaves. Photographs by Lee Altenberg, 3/6/2006.

A wiliwili tree in Wailea 670, prior to gall wasp infestation. Photograph by Lee Altenberg, 2/2/2003.

LINKS: Wailea 670 Developer's Web Site