A healthy forest is usually very noticeable. Most plants are green and growing. Animals appear active and well. Often there is an age structure, much like a human population, with both young and old present.
There are multiple layers of tall, medium, and low vegetation, if not in one location, then certainly on a regional basis. Most importantly, reproduction is occurring, signifying the right amount of soils, minerals, nutrients, water, and other requirements for life.
A healthy forest can almost be felt, as well as seen. In Hawai`i, look at different forests, and see if you can sense the difference between a healthy forest, and one that is not.
History tells us much about what we see today. Hawaii’s forests have changed dramatically from the time humans first arrived, the result of many events occurring over long periods of time.
Native plants and animals have been harvested, introduced plants and animals have proliferated, and, over time, fires and hurricanes have destroyed or altered forests.
When a forest is healthy, it is capable of producing many resources. Some of these resources can, in turn, create employment. Like the cycle of life itself, a healthy forest which creates employment can generate income. This income can then be used to manage the forest for health – thereby perpetuating its own existence.