Rapid Ohia Death Mapping

Hawaii Island

The GAO team is mapping the condition of forests on the Big Island of Hawaii, with a particular focus on detection of native Metrosideros polymorpha trees suspected of contracting Rapid Ohia Death or ROD. The symptomatology of ROD, which is caused by the highly aggressive Ceratocystis fimbriata fungus, includes rapid browning of the foliage in Ohi’a canopies, followed by defoliation and a graying of the residual canopy branches in the standing dead tree.

In January 2016, the GAO team was supported by private donations and the Carnegie Institution to collect its three-dimensional Laser-Guided Imaging Spectroscopy (LGIS) data over all forested areas of Hawaii Island. With subsequent support from the Marisla Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and the Carnegie Institution, the team has used its LGIS data to produce the first maps of standing dead trees and trees in the ROD-related “brown leaf” state for Hawaii Island.  The “brown leaf” maps are our best hope for tracking the spread of the disease, and for assessing the performance of containment and mitigation activities on the ground.

To view an example of our full 3-D LGIS data for Hawaii ROD, please go here.

The 2016 dead tree and brown-leaf tree maps are provided below for your viewing.  The maps will be made publicly available following the release of the forthcoming report “2016 Condition of Forest Canopies and Rapid Ohia Death throughout Hawaii Island“.

Explanation of Maps

  • Dead Trees: Trees of at least 2 meters (6 feet) in height that were leafless in January 2016. The colors of each detection, from yellow to red, indicate the likelihood of the tree being dead, from 50% to >90% likely.
  • Brown-leaf Trees: Trees of at least 2 meters (6 feet) in height with canopies comprised of mostly brown leaves. The colors of each detection, from yellow to red, indicate the likelihood of the tree being comprised brown foliage, from 50% to >90% likely.
  • Forest Coverage: Aircraft mapping coverage of Hawaii’s forests (from Hawaii State forest map)

IMPORTANT! Zooming in will reveal progressively more dead or brown-leaf trees until full resolution is reached at the maximum zoom level.