Mysterious fungus killing hundreds of Ohia trees baffles forest officials

Local News

Hundreds of Ohia trees are being killed by a mysterious disease, and officials aren’t sure how to stop it.

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources officials say all they have been able to do is identify it as a “new fungus.”

It’s currently only impacting the Big Island, but DLNR says it’s worried that if they don’t figure out how to stop the disease, it could eventually spread statewide.

“We hope that it doesn’t wipe out all of Ohia forests but that’s the worst case scenario that the Ohia trees die and the invasive species that have been introduced take the place of a native forest that’s definitely the worst case scenario,” said DLNR Forest Health Coordinator Rob Hauff.

In the meantime, state and federal agencies are teaming up to spread awareness about the disease.

Ohia trees cover more than one million acres statewide and are widely considered the most important forest tree in Hawaii.

Here are some things officials say you can do to help prevent the spread of the disease:

  • don’t move Ohia wood
  • don’t move Ohia inter-island
  • clean your tools, your gear and your car when going from one part of the island to another because the fungus can be transported on items

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