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The Kipahulu Forest Reserve is home to many rare native Hawaiian birds, some of which are on the verge of extinction. Upper Kipahulu Valley is actually two broad, sloping valleys with steep sides and divided by a central pali, or cliff.

The upper area of the valley is managed as a scientific preserve and public access is not allowed. Scientists and resource managers visit the upper valley of the Kipahulu Forest Reserve in an effort to aid in the preservation of the pristine native Hawaiian ecosystems.

Surveys of the Reserve have discovered a great diversity of ecological and botanical richness including endemic lobelias and more than seventy species of native ferns and fern allies. Also inhabiting the Reserve area are many extremely rare bird species such as the Maui Parrotbill. The Kipahulu Forest Reserve is part of Haleakala National Park.