Volunteers Remove Invasive Weeds, Restore Native Plants on Maunakea

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Photos courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

Continuing efforts to protect the natural resources on Maunakea, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship recently hosted an event to remove and help control invasive plants around the Maunakea Visitor Information Station as part of an extended Earth Day celebration.

The Mālama Maunakea volunteer weed pulls help control fireweed and other invasive plant species. According to a press release from UH-Hilo, eradicating invasive species and weeds helps reduce habitat for invasive ants, prevents unwanted invasive species from being transported to the upper elevation areas of Maunakea and prepares the surrounding area for future native plant restoration projects.

The Center for Maunakea Stewardship has also planted more than 300 native plants at the mauna’s mid-level.


“We’re starting to see the plants we planted, set, flower and seed, and so we’re collecting seeds from those plants that we planted in our restoration area which is incredible,” said Jessica Kirkpatrick, Natural Resource Specialist at the Center for Maunakea Stewardship, in the press release.

The center restarted the Mālama Maunakea campaign earlier this month, following a two-year COVID-19 pandemic pause, with 14 volunteers and three staff members pulling 440 pounds of invasive weeds.

Native plants are flourishing at the Visitor Information Station, more than two years after efforts to replace māmane trees and enhance the subalpine ecosystem began. The center also established other native plants, including ʻāweoweo, pawale, puakala and heʻupueo, a native grass, to enhance the native ecosystem in the area.


“The Mālama Maunakea campaign connects community volunteers to help in resource management and stewardship of the Maunakea Science Reserve, and mid-level support facilities at Halepōhaku,” said the press release. “Since its launch in 2012, the Mālama Maunakea campaign has organized 60 separate weed pulls with more than 1,500 community volunteers, more than 10,000 volunteer hours and more than 2,400 garbage bags of weeds pulled.”

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