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‘Ua ike i ka lani o ka ‘aina

‘E ulu i ka pai ‘aina ‘o Hawai’i

The beauty of the land be revealed,
that we may flourish upon the Hawaiian Islands.

 

Keau’ohana Rainforest Restoration Video

Hawai’i Environmental Restoration

Hawaii Environmental Restoration‘s primary project focuses on the restoration and preservation of Keau’ohana State Forest Reserve, the largest and most intact lowland rainforest remaining below 1,000 feet in the State of Hawai’i.  Of five State Forest Reserves set aside for conservation in 1903, Keau’ohana is the only Puna reserve in which the original forest composition has not been replaced by invasive species due to lack of management.

Since June of 2014, Keau’ohana has undergone an intensive restoration process that has focused on the control of invasive plant species, and the planting of native species on ~30 acres of the most biodiverse portion of the reserve. Our crew  (4 to 8 forest technicians depending on funding) has continued weekly restoration efforts toward preserving this precious resource through a good number of environmental and socio-economic challenges (feral pig damage, Hurricane Iselle, Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death, the 2018 Lava Event, and now Covid-19).

In June of 2021, the Keau’ohana crew completed four systematic passes of the entire 30 acre. Due to the effect of ROD on the forest canopy, we have now consolidated the restoration site to focus on its most promising portions. In this way we are able to revisit intact forest areas more often and offer enhanced long-term potential with minimal resources. 

Hawaii’s native plants face great pressure from invasive species and loss of habitat. Protecting the few remaining native forests is crucial to preserve Hawai’i’s unique cultural and biological resources. Keau’ohana is today a last remaining lowland reservoir providing habitat for many rare native and endangered species. 

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Invasive Species Control

The Keau’ohana weekly crew completed four systematic passes of the entire 30 acre site, however volunteer areas and over two miles of trails have required several additional passes every year.   In this tropical environment, being persistent is essential in order to eliminate re-growth before the next generation of invasive species attains maturity, and thus maintain leverage over plant invasion levels. This will greatly diminish the seed bank and help perpetuate native forest regeneration. 

Restoration control methods in the field largely include hand-pulling and composting of plant individuals that can be pulled; managing compost piles; applying localized injections of herbicide to cambium layer of larger stems and trees; spraying larger clusters of invasion with a foliar application of herbicide; trail maintenance/improvement, and the breakdown and consolidation of dead wood where needed. 

Keau’ohana Site Map

 

Before and after images of restoration efforts

< Before --- Clidemia Infestation --- After >
< Before --- Clidemia Infestation --- After >
< Before -- 'ie'ie Clearing -- After >
< Before -- 'ie'ie Clearing -- After >
< Before -- Endangered Ha’iwale Clearing -- After >
< Before -- Endangered Ha’iwale Clearing -- After >

Native Plant Propagation

The planting of native trees is an important component of our restoration work. We have a native plant nursery in Koa’e/Kapoho managed by Ann Kobsa, that supplies the project with the vast majority of seedlings for periodic out-planting.

The loss of canopy due to ROD poses a stronger need to develop new shade in support of the native understory. Many native canopy trees are being planted on site, but it will take time to reach levels whereby less manual labor is needed.

Keau’ohana is today a last remaining lowland reservoir of rare native species, and its surviving biota is of great biological significance. Protection of this native ecotype provides habitat for many rare native and endangered species.

Dr. Ann Kobsa
Dr. Ann Kobsa
Native Plant Nursery in Kapoho
Native Plant Nursery in Kapoho
'Ohe outplanting
‘Ohe outplanting
Tree Planting Event
Tree Planting Event

Community Outreach

Hawaii Environmental Restoration (HER) facilitates numerous special volunteer forest events with interested school and community groups from around the world every year. Community outreach events and public presentations have focused on educating people about how to help support the lowland environment in Hawaii beyond the forest as well. Presentations are shared in schools and with community groups to help people make wise plant choices for sustainable living, and to discuss ways of being supportive to our precious local environment. Presentations are offered at any location on the Big Island on a donation basis for anyone wishing to coordinate an educational event on what it means to “Malama O Ka ‘Aina”, to “Take Care of the Land”, here in Hawai’i (please view the Powerpoint as a pdf file available here). 

Volunteerism is a fundamental model for HER, who now has over 530 subscribed volunteers and members. Volunteer opportunity has provided an average of over 900 volunteer hours per year since 2014; has accrued well over 5,000 volunteer work hours; and facilitated an average of one or two special events per month (excluding 2020 due to COVID). Despite last year’s limitations, a total of 584 trees were planted in 2020 alone. Among many special events, four quarterly volunteer work parties in the forest are held per year in honor of solstices and equinoxes! These are very often tree planting occasions that are much enjoyed by all participants. 

Student Volunteers
Student Volunteers
Crew at Keau’ohana
Crew at Keau’ohana

President of Hawaii Environmental Restoration and Keau’ohana Native Rainforest Restoration Director, Jaya C. Dupuis /MS, has since 1989 immersed herself in the natural world of subsistence farming and the study and restoration of native rainforests of Hawai‘i. Jaya’s mission also involves community outreach and education of critical lowland vegetation issues. Through this work, she wishes to inspire the appreciation and re-integration of native species into Hawai‘i’s lowland environment for esthetic and historical purposes, as well as to support the control of invasive species that threaten native forest integrity and the general lowland environment.


Jaya C. Dupuis
President / Project Director
dupuis@hawaii.edu