Albizia Trees Process for Controlling Nearby Invasive Species

Hawaii island Senator Russell Ruderman, who represents Puna and Ka’u, says, “So if you live next door to a vacant property and there’s albizia just out of control, overhanging your driveway, your house, your garage, or, if you’re … the utility and want to do the same, you can go through this process now to legally enter the property for the purpose of controlling the albizia.”

During and after tropical storm Iselle in 2014 — Ruderman said, “About 90 percent of the damage was from Albizia trees. So we became very aware, we always knew it was a potential hazard and then it became a very real hazard.”

The law requires:

  • A certified arborist to confirm the albizia threat
  • At least two attempts to contact the landowner
  • And notification of neighboring property owners.

Law: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2019/bills/GM1114_.PDF

The Big Island Invasive Species Committee educates the public about albizia.

Program Manager Springer Kaye says, “During … Tropical Storm Iselle, we lost 37 homes, primarily to trees falling on them and crushing them.”

The Hawaii Electric Light Co. spent some $13 to $14 million just rebuilding infrastructure — mainly due to albizia damage.

Kaye says any arborist you hire needs to be a local expert.

“Albizia particularly is not a tree for a novice arborist and it’s also not a tree to have your cousin from the mainland who’s an arborist come out and cut down because it has some real quirks and a lot of it has to do with the weak nature of the wood.”

Albizia was a good thing when it was introduced in 1917.

Kaye says, “It was planted in experimental forestry plantings on all of the islands at a time when, we used to burn wood to fuel the boilers for sugar cane and for all kinds of electricity and heating needs throughout the state.”

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