Tests planned on targeted H-2 trees
The state considers the non-native albizia to be dangerous
Arborists for the state Department of Transportation and the Outdoor Circle will examine trees along H-2 freeway later this week that the state has marked for removal.
The goal: "to make sure we identified the right trees for the right reasons," said Scott Ishikawa, state transportation spokesman.
The Transportation Department and Outdoor Circle agreed to the inspection in a meeting yesterday.
The state identified 107 trees between Waipio and Mililani for removal, most of them albizia, because they pose a risk to drivers, Ishikawa said.
"We want to examine every tree marked for removal to see if it is warranted," said Bob Loy, Outdoor Circle director of environmental programs.
The department started removing and pruning trees last month after a large albizia tree branch fell and damaged an emergency call box near the Ka Uka Boulevard offramp. It suspended the project July 27 after people called the Outdoor Circle about the tree removal and the Outdoor Circle expressed its concerns to the Transportation Department.
By then the contractor had removed 42 trees and pruned 25, Ishikawa said.
The scientific name for the type of albizia common in Hawaii is Falcataria moluccana. It is also called Albizia falcataria, Molucca albizia, Paraserianthes falcataria and variations. The plant is native to the Molucca Islands and neighboring New Guinea, New Britain and Solomon Islands.
The albizia was introduced into Hawaii in 1917 for reforestation because it grows and spreads quickly, said Napua Harbottle, Bishop Museum botanist. At the time much of the land was barren, and soil was washing into the ocean, she said.
But the tree also crowds out other plants, making it an invasive species, Harbottle said.
"There could have been a better choice," Harbottle said.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources recognizes albizia as a problem tree that can spread into the forests and removes them when they pose a threat to conservation areas, trails, roads and facilities, said Debra Ward, department spokeswoman.
In April 2003 the department's Forestry and Wildlife Division on Kauai removed 75 feet of albizia trees along a 100-yard section of Wailua Management Road because the trees were crowding both sides of the road, causing problems with road maintenance, Ward said.
"The trees would fall down during heavy winds," she said.
Harbottle said the branches break not because they are brittle, but because they are far-reaching.
Ishikawa said the state wants to replace the albizia with monkeypod or native species.