History of Erosion in the Hawaiian Islands

History of Erosion in the Hawaiian Islands.

Several years ago someone opposed a tree planting project to save the soil of Kahoolawe, giving as his reason that the soil on this island had been blowing– away for ten thousand years and he could see no reason to worry about it at this late date. There was little erosion in the Hawaiian Islands a hundred years ago, before the spread of cattle to all the islands. The disappearance of forests, following the inroads of cattle and goats, exposed the soil, and in a few years there was very serious erosion on a large scale. Both forests and the loose forest soil disappeared. Then spring’s dried up and people were forced to abandon their taro fields. Today, water must be piped for miles to supply the cattle grazing on former taro patches. During the last thirty years the establishment of forest reserves has led to the exclusion of cattle  from most of the steep slopes that were forested at one time. For the last fifty years extensive tree planting by corporations, individuals and the government has steadily improved soil conditions in the forest areas.


Continuing Neglect of Soil Threatens Productive Agriculture Lands in Hawai`i

Continuing Neglect of Soil Threatens Productive Agriculture Lands in Hawai`i

“In most of the sugar lands the topsoil is gone, the nutrients are gone, and the soil life is gone,” says Burt Smith, a soil scientist based in Waimea, Hawai`i, who has studied the impacts of Hawai`i agriculture on soils for some 20 years. “In some areas below the fields, there are rich accumulations of soil, but in most areas, it is on the ocean bottom.”

The degree of loss “borders on the criminal,” Smith said in a recent interview with Environment Hawai`i.