Kukui (candlenut, Aleurites moluccanus), our state tree, is in a major state of decline finds a new paper by Friends board member Noa Lincoln. Using remote sensing techniques and historical aerial imagery, Noa and colleagues found that kukui canopy cover is declining by ~10% per decade, having lost nearly 60% of kukui across the state since 1950.
The work also provides strong evidence that the distribution of kukui in Hawai’i’s forest closely approximates the extent of forest alteration by Native Hawaiians before European contact, suggesting a much larger footprint — about six times larger — of indigenous cultivators on the land than previously recognized. This knowledge brings new significance to kukui as the logo of the Friends.
Words by Noa Lincoln