Molokai Forests

Country/territory: USA

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

Area: 12,295 ha

Audubon / American Bird Conservancy
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2009 high not assessed low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Moloka`i Forests Important Bird Area contains most of the native forest remaining on the island. It is 12,295 hectares in size, and extends from near sea level in several locations on the northern shore of the island to the highest summits on the island, Kamakou at 1514 meters (4970 feet) and Olokui at 1404 meters (4606 feet). The terrain is extremely rugged, with narrow ridges separated by deep stream valleys. Sea cliffs over 600 meters (2000 feet) tall, some of the highest in the world, occur in several locations along the northern coastline. Annual rainfall ranges from about one meter in the southwestern part of the area to over four meters at the head of Wailau Valley east of Olokui. Much of the area is covered in dense forest. Invasive alien plants dominate much of the lowlands, but the higher elevations contain primarily intact native forest and shrubland. The Olokui Plateau is an isolated mountain with steep sides that restrict access to alien ungulates, and is one of the most pristine areas in Hawai`i. Despite the high quality native forests that occur in parts of the area, only a few native bird species are left on Moloka`i due to the high prevalence of diseases carried by alien mosquitoes. The area includes the upper elevations of Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Olokui and Pu`u Ali`i State Natural Area Reserves, most of the Moloka`i State Forest Reserve, Kamakou and Pelekunu Nature Conservancy Preserves, and a small amount of private land.

Key biodiversity
The Molokai Forests Important Bird Area is the last possible refuge for two extremely rare endemic forest birds, the Oloma`o (Myadestes lanaiensis) and the Kakawahie or Moloka`i Creeper (Paroreomyza flammea). Both of these species may be extinct, but if they still survive it is somewhere within the Molokai Forests IBA. Their status cannot be known with certainty until the most remote areas of Moloka`i have been adequately searched, particularly the Olokui Plateau. The Oloma`o has not been observed since 1988 and the Kakawahie has not been observed since 1963 (USFWS 2006). The Oloma`o formerly occurred on Lana`i but is extinct there. A small number of `I`iwi, a species of global conservation concern, persist in forests at the highest elevations on the Olokui Plateau Natural Area Reserve and the Kamakou Nature Conservancy Preserve. `Apapane (Himatione sanguinea) and Common (or Hawai`i) `Amakihi (Hemignathus virens wilsoni) are fairly common and widespread in many forested areas, even reaching into the lowlands in some locations, though these species have global distributions restricted to the Hawaiian Islands. A small population of the endangered Nene or Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandvicensis) has been reintroduced to the island through release of captive-bred birds at lower elevations on the eastern end of the island that are outside the IBA. Though still small, this population is thriving and appears to be increasing in number and distribution and may soon expand into the Molokai Forests IBA. Hawaiian Petrels (Pterodroma sandwichensis), an endangered species endemic to the Hawaiian islands, have been heard on Moloka`i and are thought to nest there, though the number of birds and location of nesting colonies are unknown.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Molokai Forests. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/05/2022.