Knowing that water is fundamental for life, the protection of our watersheds, and therefore our forests, is essential to sustain all life in Hawai’i. These systems are so vital that native Hawaiians created the ahupuaʻa system which divided the land based on watersheds to maximize resource availability and use (a few maps of these systems can be seen in the photos to the right). A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and allows it to drain or seep into a marsh, stream, lake, river, or groundwater reserve. Watersheds in Hawai’i are characterized by forested areas, thus the Hawaiian proverb: hahai no ka ua i ka ululaʻau (the rain always follows the forest). Studies have shown that deforestation causes a decrease in rainfall in these vital areas.
Watershed Partnerships have been set up in Hawaiʻi as a way to protect our diminishing watersheds. Partnerships are made up of various public and private agencies including The Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Board of Water Supply, Kamehameha Schools, U.S Army, and Hawaiian Homelands.
There are many benefits in joining a watershed partnership. One of the most valuable benefits is solidarity between partners. By joining a watershed partnership, a more concentrated effort can be made to address the many problems that watersheds face, such as fire hazards, invasive species, and other concerns that a single land owner or organization might find daunting to accomplish individually. Money in the form of private and public grants is available for landowners who want to become part of a watershed partnership.