UHERO discusses the critical importance of reducing fire risk on un-managed grasslands
Oct 30, 2023
A recently published UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO) blog highlights the crucial importance of reducing fire risk on unmanaged grasslands across our islands. This comes as leaders, community members, and stakeholders seek answers on how to prevent the destruction the wildfires caused in Lahaina from ever happening again in our state.
“We argue that improved regulation coupled with additional economic incentives targeting fire risk reduction for public safety are also cost-effective and economically efficient ways to support local agriculture and food production,” the blog states.
“A clear root cause of the devastating August 2023 fires on Maui is the abundance of highly flammable and unmanaged, non-native grasslands on adjacent former plantation lands. For many years, scientists and other community members have warned of the impending risk these unmanaged landscapes pose to communities like Lahaina.”
The blog presents opportunities of improvement in areas such as regulation, land management, and restoring former plantation agricultural lands to provide ecosystem services, including wildfire risk reduction.
The blog continues: “There is an opportunity to restore large swaths of former plantation agricultural lands to provide ecosystem services, including wildfire risk reduction. At the same time, we need to support the farmers and ranchers who are currently managing agricultural lands. For example, many ranches and farms are on year-to-year leases which makes long-term planning incredibly challenging. Without continued and active management, these areas can quickly become unmanaged grasslands, exacerbating the problem.”
The blog was authored by Steven Bond-Smith, Leah Bremer, Kimberly Burnett, Clay Trauernicht, and Christopher Wada. To read more visit the UHERO blog.