Ascending further upland in the wao akua, we enter the wao lāʻau, once characterized here by its large stands of koa and māmane forests. Besides the poʻe kāwili manu (bird catchers) who would travel here to gather their prized feathers, kāhuna kālai waʻa (canoe carving specialists), and other craftsmen, would also come to this region to gather lāʻau for making canoes, houses, kiʻi, and other everyday and ceremonial necessities. During the early to mid 1800s, kamaʻāina would also come to this region to hunt pipi, wild cattle, that had spread throughout the upland regions of Hawaiʻi island after their introduction to Hawaiʻi by Capt. George Vancouver of England.
Over a century of cattle ranching, however, has led to vast deforestation in the wao lāʻau. Today, koa and māmane resiliently survive in small clusters scattered throughout pasture lands. Increasingly dryer conditions have also caused massive brush fires in the area, further threatening native species.