The Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death Working Group—also known as the ROD Squad—was formed to respond to the new disease threatening Hawai‘i’s most important native forest tree. With nearly 200 individuals representing state, county, federal, university, and non-profit organizations; local and private businesses; and private citizens, the group facilitates inclusive communication on all issues related to the fungal disease and shares knowledge on a regular basis among group members, their organizations, and the people of Hawai‘i.
Their success at their mandate was confirmed recently when they received the Conservation Innovation award at the 2019 Hawaii Conservation Conference.
‘Ōhi‘a is the backbone of Hawaii’s native forests and watersheds, making up 80% of the remaining native forests. ROD, which is caused by two closely related fungi species, has been found throughout Hawai‘i island and was detected on Kaua‘i in 2018 and on Maui last month.
The working group’s committees focusing on research, surveys, control, and outreach provide reports to keep stakeholders current on the latest information. “This forum has been key to maintaining information flow as well as connecting folks who want to contribute to the cause,” said Rob Hauff, State Protection Forester, with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The ROD Squad recommends the following to help reduce the risk of spreading Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death:
- Avoid injuring ‘ōhi‘a
- Don’t transport ‘ōhi‘a inter-island
- Don’t move ‘ōhi‘a wood or vegetation
- Clean your hiking boots/gear/tools
- Wash your vehicle