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Location USA, Hawaii
Central coordinates 159o 33.60' West  22o 4.20' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, A4ii
Area 77,420 ha
Altitude 0 - 1,598m
Year of IBA assessment 2009


Site description The Kaua`i Forests and Uplands Important Bird Area occupies most of the central and northwestern portions of Kaua`i and contains most of the native forest and intact upland habitats remaining on the island. It is 77,420 hectares (191,227 acres) in size and extends from sea level along the northwestern coastline to the highest summits, Wai`ale`ale at 1569 meters (5148 feet) and Kawaikini at 1598 meters (5243 feet). The core of the area is the broad Alaka`i Plateau that slopes gradually downward from east to west. The terrain is extremely rugged, with deep canyons eroded into the plateau on all sides, including spectacular Waimea and Olokele Canyons on the south and the dramatic Na Pali coastline on the northwest. These canyons contain numerous waterfalls, isolated hanging valleys, and precipitous cliffs over 600 meters (2000 feet) high. Annual rainfall ranges from about one meter (39.3 inches) in the southwest to 11.5 meters (450 inches) near the summit of Wai`ale`ale, one of the wettest spots on earth. Even the relatively flat Alaka`i Plateau is etched with innumerable streams and narrow gulches that make pedestrian access challenging. Much of the area is covered in dense forest and montane shrubland. Bogs with stunted vegetation occupy some depressions in the plateau. The higher elevations contain some of the most intact native ecosystems in Hawai`i, but invasive alien plants dominate much of the lowlands. The area includes the State Alaka`i Wilderness Preserve, the State Hono `O Na Pali and Kuia Natural Area Reserves, all or part of the Halelea, Moloa`a, Na Pali-Kona, Kealia, Pu`u Ka Pele, and Lihue-Koloa State Forest Reserves, Koke`e, Waimea Canyon, Haena, Na Pali Coast, and Polihale State Parks, Wailua, Kekaha, and Mokihana State Game Management Areas, and The Nature Conservancy?s Kana`ele Preserve.

Key Biodiversity The Kaua`i Forests and Uplands IBA supports one of the greatest concentrations of endemic Hawaiian forest birds, including the entire population of several species that are endangered or of global conservation concern. The endangered Puaiohi numbers about 400 birds and nests only on cliffs along narrow streams where it is safe from predators. The `Akikiki or Kaua`i Creeper and the `Akeke`e or Kaua`i `Akepa number about 1,312 and 3,536 individuals, respectively. Both are declining and were recently petitioned for listing. The Kaua`i `Amakihi and `Anianiau are more numerous at about 40,000 individuals each, but are restricted to Kaua`i and are species of global conservation concern. `I`iwi and `Elepaio occur on other islands but are somewhat less numerous at about 10,000 and 23,000 individuals and are also species of global concern. The remote forests of the upper `Alaka`i are the last possible refuge for several extremely rare endemic birds, the Kama`o, Kaua`i `O`o, Nukupu`u, and `O`u. These species have not been observed for 10-20 years and may be extinct, but if they still survive it is somewhere in the Kaua`i Forests and Uplands IBA. Their status cannot be known with certainty until the most remote areas of Kaua`i have been adequately searched. The remote mountains and steep slopes of Kaua`i provide vital breeding sites for several seabirds, including threatened Newell's Shearwater, endangered Hawaiian Petrel, which are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, Band-rumped Storm-petrel, which is a candidate for listing, and White-tailed Tropicbird. The number of birds is difficult to estimate and the location of most colonies is unknown, but populations have declined recently and some former colonies have been extirpated. Kauai`i supports the vast majority of nesting Newell's Shearwaters. The endangered Nene or Hawaiian Goose was reintroduced to Kaua`i in 1985, and one population of about 80 individuals uses the northwestern edge of the area along the Na Pali coast.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Hawaiian Goose Branta sandvicensis resident  2002  83 individuals  good  A1, A2, A4i  Vulnerable 
Hawaiian Petrel Pterodroma sandwichensis breeding  2001  present chicks  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Newell's Shearwater Puffinus newelli present  poor  A1, A4ii  Endangered 
Chasiempis sandwichensis resident  2000  23,000 individuals  good  A1, A2  Not Recognised 
Puaiohi Myadestes palmeri resident  2007  400 individuals  good  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Kauai Amakihi Hemignathus kauaiensis resident  2000  41,000 individuals  good  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Anianiau Hemignathus parvus resident  2000  35,000 individuals  good  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Akikiki Oreomystis bairdi resident  2007  1,312 individuals  medium  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Akekee Loxops caeruleirostris resident  2007  3,536 individuals  medium  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Iiwi Vestiaria coccinea resident  2000  10,000 individuals  good  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Apapane Himatione sanguinea resident  2000  129,563 individuals  good  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2009 high not assessed low
Poor - based on little, or potentially unreliable/unrepresentative, data

Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Some of site covered (10-49%)  Unknown  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Land ownership The majority of lands comprising the Kaua`i Forests and Uplands IBA are owned by the State of Hawai`i (62%), with the remainder being privately owned lands that are administered by the State of Hawai`i as forest reserves (38%), and less than 1% owned by The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i. State lands include the Alaka`i Wilderness Preserve (6%), the Hono O Na Pali and Kuia Natural Area Reserves (2%), all or parts of the Halelea, Moloa`a, Na Pali-Kona, Kealia, Pu`u Ka Pele, and Lihue-Koloa State Forest Reserves (36%), Koke`e, Waimea Canyon, Haena, Na Pali Coast, and Polihale State Parks (7%), and the Wailua, Kekaha, and Mokihana State Game Management Areas (11%)

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 89%
hunting 11%

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kauai Forests and Uplands. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife