Ohia Love Fest bringing awareness to Hawaii forest disease

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The 4th annual Ohia Love Fest is a week-long virtual festival that has brought a range of workshops and activities to the public. As Rapid Ohia Disease has now spread from one island to four, it is important we all do our part to keep it from spreading even more.

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Ohia is the most abundant native tree in the state of Hawaii and it covers the largest portion of the forest’s canopy, meaning it captures the majority of rainfall in the area.  

So a threat to the Ohia population is a threat to Hawaii’s entire population. 

“So, all of the water that we drink today, most of it comes from our forest,” says Ambyr Mokiao-Lee, UH Manoa’s Rapid Ohia Death Statewide Coordinator.

“Just because you turn on the faucet to brush your teeth doesn’t mean that water is coming from somewhere,” said Mokiao-Lee. “Water is coming from rainwater that percolates through the forests and through our pipes.”

But the Ohia is under attack from Rapid Ohia Death.

The fungal disease was first sighted on the Island of Hawaii in 2014.
Ohia is most commonly found on the Big Island.  

Since then, the disease has spread to Maui, Oahu and Kauai. 

“So, on Hawaii island, we have nearly 185,000 acres of affected forest on that island which essentially equates to about 20% of the forest on Hawaii island being affected by this disease,” says Mokiao-Lee.

The purpose of the Ohia Love Fest is to bring awareness to this issue, its potential threat to our lives, but also the things that can be done to help prevent its spread.  

There are still events for to participate in, free of charge. 

“We’re ending with a planting a lei garden and teaching us about different variety of plants that you can use in lei making,” says Mokiao-Lee.

“Teaching people how to grow lei plants so you can have your own lei garden so you don’t have to go harvest out in some of our state reserves and things like that.”

In case you missed any of the virtual workshops throughout the week, the University of Hawaii will be uploading all of them to their website.

For more information, click here.

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