Mauna Loa-Kilauea Forests

Country/territory: USA

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 109,068 ha

Audubon / American Bird Conservancy
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2009 not assessed high low
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2011 baseline)
The Mauna Loa-Kilauea Forests Important Bird Area is located on the island of Hawaii and encompasses the eastern flank of Mauna Loa Volcano and lands surrounding Kilauea Volcano. Both these volcanoes are active, and Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. The IBA includes about 109,068 hectares extending from 500 to 7,000 feet (150 to 2,130 meters) elevation. Land parcels within the IBA include all or part of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Pu`u Maka`ala, Kahaualea, and Waiakea 1942 Lava Flow State Natural Area Reserves, Kipuka Ainahou State Nene Sanctuary, Upper Waiakea Bog Sanctuary, Mauna Loa, Ola`a, Waiakea, Upper Waiakea, and Wao Kele O Puna State Forest Reserves, Kulani State Correctional Facility, and Keauhou Ranch and other private lands owned by Kamehameha Schools. The terrain consists of gentle to moderate slopes, punctuated in some areas by volcanic craters and vents. Areas of older lava are densely vegetated, but lands downslope from active volcanic vents are barren and covered by recent lava flows. Moisture-laden northeasterly tradewinds cause rainfall to be higher on the eastern slopes, peaking at over 150 inches (4 meters) per year around 2,000 feet (600 meters) elevation. Dense rainforest covers most of the eastern portion, grading into mesic woodland, shrubland, and grassland in leeward areas to the west. Native plants dominate many areas, but alien plants are widespread, particularly at lower elevations. The western boundary of the IBA follows the 7,000-foot (2,130-meter) contour, because land above this is mostly barren lava. The northern edge follows the boundary between lava flows from Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, which often coincides with the Saddle Road. The Mauna Kea Wet Forests IBA is a short distance to the north. The Kau Forests IBA, which occupies the southwestern flank of Mauna Loa, is separated by intervening areas of barren lava and open grassland cleared for cattle ranching and sugar cane cultivation.

Key biodiversity
The Mauna Loa-Kilauea Forests Important Bird Area supports one of the most important remaining concentrations of endemic Hawaiian birds, including populations of four species that are endemic to Hawaii Island and are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the `Akiapola`au (Hemignathus munroi), Hawai`i Creeper (Oreomystis mana), Hawai`i `Akepa (Loxops coccineus), and `Io or Hawaiian Hawk (Buteo solitarius). The `Akiapola`au, Hawai`i Creeper, and `Akepa are sparsely-distributed and occur only in native forest above 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). The `Io is widespread and is seen frequently over much of the area. The Mauna Loa-Kilauea area also supports important populations of three other endemic Hawaiian forest birds of global conservation concern, the `I`iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), Oma`o (Myadestes obscurus), and Hawaii `Elepaio (Chasiempis s. sandwichensis). The `Apapane (Himatione sanguinea) and Hawai`i `Amakihi (Hemignathus virens) are the most abundant native birds in the IBA and also occur on other islands, but still have globally restricted ranges. Hawai`i is the only island on which the Nene or Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandvicensis) was never extirpated, and the wild Nene population has been augmented in several locations with numerous captive bred birds, particularly in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Small numbers of the Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), another endangered species endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, are known to transit the area while commuting to nesting areas higher on Mauna Loa, and it is possible that a few petrels nest along the top margin of the IBA.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mauna Loa-Kilauea Forests. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/mauna-loa-kilauea-forests-iba-usa on 04/12/2023.