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Natural Resources and Water


Natural Resources

The Island of Hawai`i (a.k.a. the Big Island) is composed of 4.1M acres of land and approximately 32% of this land area is forested. Forests protect the island's watersheds, provide habitat for hundreds of unique native species, and are popular destinations for hiking, camping, and hunting. The value of forest products (high-value hardwoods, mostly koa) in the state of Hawai`i was estimated as $30.7M in 2001, mostly coming from Hawai`i Island. Forest industry today is diversifying products to include timber from plantation eucalyptus and bio-energy.

Click here for more information on forestry.

Water Quality

Nearly 60,000 residents in the state of Hawai`i are dependent on rainwater catchment systems, and most of them are located on the island of Hawai`i. In some studies, as many as 62-65% of samples tested from these private water systems have contained fecal contamination, posing a potential health threat. Our educational and research program on Water Quality primarily focuses on the health, safety, water quality, and water quantity of residents and their water systems relying on harvested rain.

Rainwater Catchment Program

Rainwater catchment meets a wide variety of residential, agricultural, commercial, and recreational needs while minimizing run-off and watershed pollution. In addition, rainwater catchment is a valuable tool to make the most of existing natural resources, avoid water shortages, and promote sustainable living. The rainwater catchment program is part of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management’s water quality program. The extension component highlights the safe usage of rainwater as a domestic water supply, as well as the sustainability of decentralized water systems for domestic and commercial enterprises. The research component of the program focuses on water quality and quantity of rainwater systems.

UH CTAHR Natural Resources Personnel:
For information on the rainwater catchment program, contact Trisha Macomber.


Hawai`i Island is a geographically and biologically diverse island with six of the 12 soil orders.

UH CTAHR Soils Extension Personnel:
For information on the state-wide extension program on soils of Hawai`i, contact Dr. Jonathan Deenik.