Wildfire in a nonnative grassland on central oahu

Wildfire in a nonnative grassland on central oahu

Over the past decade, Hawai‘i has experienced an average of >1,000 ignitions burning >20,000 acres (8,000 ha) each year across the main inhabited islands.  Fire response agencies are able to contain 90% of wildfire ignitions to less than one acre in size, but large fires (>1000 acres) have occurred on all islands, and happen multiple times each year across the state.  Nearly all fires in Hawaii are human-caused and they often pose threats to communities and natural and cultural resources.  Having evolved in the absence of frequent fires, Hawaii's native ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to fire disturbance, which is often associated with the spread and establishment of nonnative grass and shrub species.

ecosystem fire triangle.png

The primary drivers of fire occurrence are:

  • Frequent, mostly human-caused ignitions.
  • Expansion of nonnative, fire-prone grasslands and shrublands over c. 25% of state land area.
  • Strong rain shadow effects and episodic drought create year-round fire weather.

Check out the PFX Fact Sheet on Wildfire in Hawaii:

Hawaii wildfire history
HAwaii state land cover from 2012 landfire product

HAwaii state land cover from 2012 landfire product