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Ohia Wilt Spreading More Quickly Than Initially Thought

University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Credit Department of Land and Natural Resources

Scientists say a disease killing hundreds of thousands of ‘?hi‘a trees on Hawaii's Big Island is spreading. Recent aerial surveys show the acreage of infected trees has more than doubled in the past two years. State, county and federal agencies collaborated to conduct the surveys by helicopter last month. The fungal disease, called Rapid ‘?hi‘a Death, was found in 34,000 acres of ‘?hi‘a forest. Rob Hauff is the Forest Health Coordinator with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The disease has now spread to ‘?hi‘a trees in Kona, Ka‘? and the Kohala forests. That’s concerning for Flint Hughes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.


To prevent further spread of the disease, the state is urging the public to clean tools and gear used on ‘?hi‘a and to avoid moving any of the tree’s wood, especially to outer islands. A quarantine rule issued by the Department of Agriculture remains in effect, banning interisland transport without a permit.

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon joined HPR in May 2012 as an intern for the morning talk show The Conversation. She has since worn a variety of hats around the station, doing everything from board operator to producer.
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