Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (19°11'-19°33'N, 155°01'-155°39'W) is a World Heritage Site in Hawaii, United States.
Lies in the south-east part of Hawaii Island, the easternmost island of the State of Hawaii, and includes the summit and south-east slope of Mauna Loa and the summit and south-western, southern, and portions of the south-eastern slopes of Kilauea Volcano. The core of the park lies at 19°11'-19°33'N, 155°01'-155°39'W; whilst the 'Ola'a Tract, to the north-east is centered on 19°29'N, 155°15'W
Date and History of Establishment
Hawaii National Park, created on 1 August 1916 by Act of the US Congress (39 Stat. 432), consisted of two units each on different islands, one on Hawaii Island and the other on Maui Island. The area of the park was more than doubled as a result of Congressional authorization in 1922 (45 Stat. 503), in 1928 (45 Stat. 424) and in 1938 (52 Stat. 781). The 'Ola'a Forest Tract was donated in 1951 and 1953 (Executive Order No. 1640). The park was split into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (on Hawaii Island) and Haleakala National Park (on Maui Island) in 1961 (75 Stat. 577). Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is protected under 16 U.S.C. 1 (National Park Service Organic Act) and under the terms establishing the park as set out in 16 U.S.C. 395b, and under several sections of 16 U.S.C. 391-396a. Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks]were accepted as MAB Biosphere Reserves in 1980, and combined to form the Hawaiian Islands Biosphere Reserve totaling 99,545 hectares (ha) in April 1983. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1987.
The park was created from federally-owned land donated by the State of Hawaii, while the Congressional Act of 1930 (46 Stat. 227) gave exclusive legal jurisdiction to the Federal government. The Act of 1920 (41 Stat. 452) authorized the acquisition of privately-owned land and rights of way.
From sea level to 4,170 meters (m).
The park extends from the southern coast to the summit calderas of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Mauna Loa is a massive, flat-domed shield volcano built by lava flow layers and is considered to be the best example of its type in the world. It extends from 6,096 m below sea level to a maximum of 4,103 m above sea level. These are among the world's most active volcanoes and constantly exhibit changing features, especially from the two principal rift zones which feature extensive recent flows. The Halemaumau fire pit was a continuously active lava lake into the early 1900s and others existed along the East Rift. Eruptive activity has almost been continuous along the area's East Rift Zone, and has produced extensive new lava flows and a 300 m high cinder cone.
The weather is dominated by north-east trade winds. Windward mid-slopes receive a mean annual rainfall of 3,810 millimeters (mm), but leeward areas receive only 10% of that amount. Such extremes of annual average precipitation produces dramatic climatic and life-zone ]]gradient\s. Annual average temperatures range from 22°C at sea level to 7°C at 3,400 m. The summit of Mauna Loa is cooler still.
The park contains a high diversity of plant communities with striking physiognomic differences. Doty and Mueller-Dombois have identified 23 distinct vegetation types in five major ecological zones, varying from rain forest to desert scrub and coastal strand to alpine. A spectrum of tropical environments ranging from persistently or seasonably wet to dry are found in Hawaii, and account for the floral diversity. Volcanism encourages the emergence of diversity, resulting in a mosaic of successional and climax stages throughout the park.
Endemism rates in flowering plants are extremely high (90%) because of geographic isolation. Characteristic of islands, the flora is impoverished relative to continental areas, with greatest diversity in mesic and rain forest communities. Further, ferns constitute a significant portion of the native flora, with tree fern-dominated rain forest reaching its highest development in land.
Introduced plants, stimulated and dispersed by introduced ungulates, have invaded all plant communities. The park's flora contains nearly twice as many exotic flowering plants as native species. Although some plant communities, especially those below 600 m have been significantly effected by introduced plants, others, particularly those above 1,500 m, are essentially native. A significant portion of the park's flora is threatened by ungulates, introduced plants and wildfire. The 19 nationally endangered or threatened plant species and candidate species comprise 10% of the vascular plant flora of the park. A checklist of vascular plants has been compiled.
Except for one bat species, the Hawaiian hoary bat Lasiurus cinereus semotus (I), native mammalian species are absent. Little is known to date about invertebrate forms. Birds present interesting and significant examples of adaptive radiation and extinction. Most endemic avian species are rare or endangered. Species formally listed in the US as threatened include Hawaiian goose (nene) Branta sandvicensis, a terrestrial non-migratory goose; honeycreepers, namely akepa Loxops coccineus (R), akiapola'au Hemignathus wilsoni (E), and Hawaiian creeper Oreomystis mana; and Hawaiian petrel Pterodroma sandwichensis (E). Other endemic species include Hawaiian thrush (omao) Phaeornis obscurus; and the following honeycreepers, apapane Himatione sanguinea, elepaio Chasiempis sandwichensis, amakihi Hemignathus virens and iiwi Vestiaria coccinea. Introduced pig Sus scrofa, cats, mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus, dogs, birds, and a very large number of invertebrates including Argentine ant Iridomyrmex humilis, have colonized parts of the park environment.
The park is rich in remains (88,654 ha are included in Puna-Ka'u Historic District) and particularly so along the coast with native villages, heiaus (temples), graves, paved trails, canoe landings, petroglyphs, shelter caves, and agricultural areas. Following the arrival of the British explorer James Cook in 1778-79, Christian influences started in or around 1823, with churches and schools built and the introduction of cattle, goat, and pulu (tree-fern product) harvesting.
Visitors and Visitor Facilities
Mauna Loa was first climbed by visitors in 1794 and as a result of descriptions written in 1823, Kilauea Volcano had by 1840 become a tourist attraction. The first Volcano House was constructed in 1866 and successive structures were built in 1877, 1893, and 1941 to serve volcano watching visitors. The 1877 construction is now used as the Volcano Art Centre, whilst the 1941 construction is the park's only hotel. Present day facilities include the Volcano House and two campgrounds. Hiking and fishing are two of the major activities.
Scientific Research and Facilities
The park is home to a multi-agency Research Center, which includes facilities for the US Forest Service, the National Biological Service (NBS) and university researchers. The US Forest Service is conducting research on insect biological agents to control exotic forest weed species which are considered to be pests. The NBS has three research groups representing the majority of the researchers in the Pacific Islands Service Centre. These scientists are focusing on three research areas: disease and other limiting factors of native birds, park monitoring and compiling an inventory of park flora and fauna.
The US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, founded in 1912 is also situated in the park. The agency conducts a volcanic geological research monitoring program. Mauna Loa and Kilauea are the most studied and best understood volcanoes in the world. The observatory has trained most of the volcanic scientists in the world and developed research techniques that are now standard procedure. Research conducted here has contributed to understanding of island building through volcanic processes. The park maintains 12 weather stations.
Hawaii Volcanoes National park is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The site is a unique example of island building through on-going volcanic processes, and represents the most recent activity in the continuing process of the geological origin and change of the Hawaiian Archipelago. The park represents native subtropical rain forest and mesic forest communities, providing an excellent example of succession following dynamic volcanic activity, as well as habitats for several threatened and endemic species.
The control of feral pigs and non-native plants are the highest conservation management priorities. Feral goats have been eradicated or reduced to very low numbers in all park habitats except portions of Mauna Loa above 2,800 m. Low numbers of pigs are maintained in approximately 8,000 ha (one third) of the park. Approximately 25 alien plant species are disruptive to native plant communities, but are too widespread for effective control.
The park is divided into three land use zones: primary use zone for concentrated visitor use, interpretive programs such as the Crater Rim Summit loop drive, the Chain of Craters Road corridor, and the Waha'ula Visitor Center areas; wilderness threshold zone, comprising a self-guiding nature area used almost exclusively by local island residents and off-island visitors who rent vehicles; and backcountry zone, the largest and least used zone. Commercial development, resources exploitation, hunting, gathering, off-road motorized vehicles, burning, etc. are prohibited.
Introduced plants and animals have affected all sections of the park. The most severe disturbance has occurred in semi-arid lowland area and mid-elevation areas; and the least impacted has been in the uplands. Feral goats have had an impact on dry and mesic park environments which extend from sea-level to the alpine zone by destroying shrubs and preventing regeneration of many native plant species. Despite a long-term reduction effort, this was particularly serious in the early 1970s when high populations (between 15,000 and 20,000) had built up in the drier coastal and high mountain sections. However, numbers are currently limited. Feral pigs affect mostly mesic and wet environments by damaging native vegetation, disturbing soil, and dispersing alien plant seeds.The Argentine ant is a pest (especially around human settlements) and is spreading within native ecosystems.
Pox and malaria diseased reservoirs is an added problem which threatens native bird species. Pockets of standing water, created by the wallowing of feral pigs, provide breeding places for mosquitos resulting in serious avian malaria.
There are 98 full time staff in the park.
The annual base budget for 1995 is US$ 3.4 million. Additional biological research program was about US$ 500,000 (1990) and cultural research program was US$ 110,000 (1990).
IUCN Management Category
- II (National Park)
- Biosphere Reserve
- Natural World Heritage Site - Criterion ii
There are some 63 main references, 8 management plans, and 3 maps, the most significant being:
- Anon. (1970). Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Master Plan. US Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Revised 1973.
- Anon. (1973). Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, Natural Resources Management Plan and Program. Revised/updated in 1978, 1980, annually since 1982 with latest version, March 1985.
- Anon. (1984). Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, Natural Resources Management Program. November 1984 update. An Addendum to the Natural Resources Management Plan.
- Carlquist, S. (1980). Hawaii: A Natural History. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii: Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Honolulu. 463 pp.
- Cuddihy, L.W. and C.P. Stone. (1990). Alteration of Native Hawaiian Vegetation; Effects of Humans, Their Activities and Introduction. University of Hawaii Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit. 138 pp. ISBN: 0824813081.
- Degner, Otto M. (1973). Plants of Hawaii National Park. Braun-Brumfield, Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan. ISBN: 0942212088.
- Doty, M.S. and Mueller-Dombois, D. (1966). Atlas Bioecological Studies at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Hawaii Botanical Science Paper No. 2. University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 507 pp.
- Higashino, P.K., Cuddihy, L.W., Anderson, S.J. and Stone, C.P. (1988). Checklist of vascular plants of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Cooperative National Park Resource Studies Unit: Hawaii. Technical Report 64. University of Hawaii at Manoa.
- Jacoby, J.D. (1989). Vegetation maps of the Upland Plant Communities of the Islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. University of Hawaii Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit.
- MacDonald, G.A., Abbott, A.T. and Peterson, F.L. (1983). Volcanoes in the Seas: The Geology of Hawaii. Second Edition. University of Hawaii Press, Hawaii. 400 pp. ISBN: 0824808320.
- Stone, C. P. and Holt, R.A. (1987). Managing the invasions of alien ungulates and plants in Hawaii's natural areas.
- Stone, D.P. and Keith, J.O. (1987). Control of feral ungulates and small mammals in Hawaii's national parks: research and management. In: Richards, C.G.J. and Ku, J.Y. (Eds), Control of mammal pests. 277-287. Suppl. 1, Trop. Pest. Manag. 32. Torgen and Francis Ltd., London.
- Smart, C.D. (1965). The Archaeological Resources of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Department of Anthropology, B.P. Bishop Museum. 112 pp.
- Smathers, G.A. and Mueller-Dombois, D. (1973). Invasion and Recovery of Vegetation After a Volcanic Eruption in Hawaii. National Park Service Scientific Monograph Series No. 3. US National Park Service, Washington DC.
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