Archive for the ‘Forest’ Category

Saving ‘ohi‘a lehua

May 30th, 2016


New signs created by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources are aimed towards educating hunters, hikers, mountain bikers and others visiting state public lands about Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death.

Anya Tagawa and Jeff Bagshaw of othe DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife's Natural Area Reserve program are hoping the signs help prevent the spread of the fungal disease, which has decimated tens of thousands of acres of native ‘ohi‘a on the Big Island.

The fungal disease, also known as Ceratocystis Wilt, affects the vascular system of the tree. Once stricken, healthy, mature ‘ohi‘a lehua trees can die within a matter of weeks. The disease has the potential to kill ‘ohi‘a trees, which are the backbone of the native rainforest, statewide.

"It is critical that every person who goes into the woods or forest anywhere in Hawaii, takes steps to prevent this disease from spreading," said DLNR chair Suzanne Case in a press release. "Anya and Jeff's work along with a team of other outreach experts, is vitally important in getting kamaaina and visitors alike to be certain they don't inadvertently track the fungus from place to place."

Bagshaw, his staff and volunteers recently conducted surveys with visitors to the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve and found very few people had any knowledge about Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death.

"We hope hikers and all forest users will start to be conscious wherever they go, even if there's ‘ohi‘a there or not," said Bagshaw in a press release. "We're like them to realize that they could be taking something into the forest that affects our native ecosystems. ‘Oh‘a are the backbone of our native rainforest; they feed the honeycreepers, they protect the watershed. I can't imagine a Hawaiian rainforest without ‘ohi‘a."


More than 50 signs are expected to be posted at every DOFAW trailhead on the Big Island as well as on Na Ala Hele trailheads on Maui.

The signs recommend that visitors to the trails:

> Clean gear before and after their visit by brushing off all dirt from shoes and gear and spraying with 70 percent rubbing alcohol, particularly if you have hiked on Hawaii island in the last two years.

> Clean vehicles by removing all soil and washing tires and undercarriages with detergent.

> Every hiker could be a potential carrier, so every hiker is responsible for taking the proper care not to spread the fungus.

ROD Trail Head Sign

Related Video:

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A tree for every dancer

May 28th, 2014

Merrie Monarch Festival director Auntie Luana Kawelu planting a koa tree at Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, Hamakua Coast, Big Island. Photo courtesy Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

Merrie Monarch Festival director Auntie Luana Kawelu planting a koa tree at Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, Hamakua Coast, Big Island. Photo courtesy Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

It's a beautiful concept. Plant a tree, honor someone.

Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, a certified B Corp Best for the Environment, announced in early May a new milestone — the planting of its 250,000th native koa tree on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Its goal is to plant 1.3 million trees as part of a reforestation initiative.

What would be more appropriate than to plant a koa tree for every dancer participating in the Merrie Monarch Festival? Hula, after all, is about a connection to nature, with mele celebrating the beauty of every isle, valley, mountain, forest, inlet, rain, breeze, fern and flower. KFVE initiated this legacy last April in a tribute to the Merrie Monarch's 50th year, sponsoring the planting of 555 koa trees in honor of every dancer at the festival last year.

This April, 580 legacy trees were planted, one for every dancer that competed.

KFVE General Manager John Fink says the plan is to sponsor every hula dancer participating in the festival in future years.

Pulelehua on Lehua[1]NathanYuen

In just four years, more than 650 acres of former pastureland have been reclaimed as native forest.

Besides koa, HLH is now offering the planting of other indigenous species of trees and understory including the ‘ohi‘a (see the beautiful lehua blossom, left, by nature photographer Nathan Yuen,, mamane, naio, ko‘oko‘olau, kukaenene and both varieties of ‘iliahi (Hawaiian sandalwood).

"We are seeing the return of the koa forest and along with it, the endangered birds which historically occupied these lands — it's remarkable how fast it is happening," said CEO Jeff Dunster. What's more, this Legacy Forest is creating dozens of permanent green jobs, reducing the effects of global warming and most importantly, doing it in a way that honors the legacy of Hawaiian culture."

The forest's historic site was once the personal koa forest of King Kamehameha the Great, the first king of Hawaii, but was cleared nearly a century ago to make room for farming and ranching. But some of the old growth koa trees can still be found on site.

"The simple act of sponsoring a Legacy Tree, by countless individuals, has transformed this mountain," said Dunster. "Each tree has a story to tell. Each one was planted and sponsored as a living legacy to honor an individual, memorialize a loved one or to commemorate an event. This forest really belongs to them."

Sponsorship of a koa tree is $60, with $20 of it going to a non-profit group of your choice (Legacy has partnered with more than 100, from AccessSurf to Waimanalo Health Center). Also, $1 from every tree purchased goes to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. Sponsorship of a sandalwood tree is $100. You receive a certificate of ownership which gives you the GPS coordinates of your tree, according to its RFID tag, which you can find via Google Earth. The sponsored trees are never harvested.

To sponsor a tree, visit or call 1-877-707-TREE.

Below, certificate I received for sponsoring a tree in honor of "Uncle George and Auntie Dottie" last year (out of my own pocket). Think I will sponsor one for my 3-year-old son, too (we planted a koa in our yard when he was born):


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Sandalwood Legacy Trees

January 28th, 2014

The sandalwood, or iliahi sapling, is now part of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwood's sponsorship program. Courtesy image.

The sandalwood, or iliahi sapling, is now part of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwood's sponsorship program. Courtesy image.

Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods of Paauilo, Hawaii, is now offering the rare, endemic sandalwood – or ‘iliahi, as part of its sponsorship program.

The sweet smelling ‘iliahi, found only in Hawaii, was harvested nearly to extinction a century ago. ‘Iliahi are not easy to grow, according to Heidi Bornhorst in "Growing Native Hawaiian Plants: A How-to Guide for the Gardener," because it is often difficult to find the seeds.

It is also slow-growing, with wood that is considered very valuable. HLH does not plan to harvest the trees.

"The simple fact is that because it is so slow-growing, if you are planting it for harvest, you better be planting it for your grandkids," said CEO Jeff Dunster. "And yes, in fact we are planting it for our grandkids, and everyone else's grandkids too."

The Legacy Tree program offers the public the opportunity to get involved in the reforestation of Hawaii through sponsorships. Sponsor a Sandalwood Legacy Tree to celebrate an event, honor an individual or memorialize a loved one.

The sponsorship of a sandalwood legacy tree is $100, with $20 going to the charity of the giver's choice (plus $1 which goes to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust).

HLH celebrated the planting of its 200,000th native koa tree on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii island in May 2013 three years after the program was launched. The goal is to plan 1.3 million koa treesKoa legacy tree sponsorships are also still available for $60 (with $20 going to a charity).

Each tree can be tracked through HLH's Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, basically a computer signature, which keeps tabs on the tree's growth, maintenance and geology.

Visit or call (877) 707-TREE to learn more.




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