This downtown Pahoa block Party was driven by Council member Ashley Kierkiewicz and the District 4 team, Chasity Qyuhano and Christine Kahikina. The purpose of this event was for community revitalization one year following the 2108 lava flow. Our forest project was represented with a brief talk and a showing of the Keau’ohana video at the main stage. Outreach brochures were handed out and discussion held with interested people. This celebration demonstrated the resourcefulness and resilience of the Puna community as several dozen community members worked together to help implement it.
Project coordinator, Jaya Dupuis met with environmental specialists for Kamehameha Lands, Rebecca Mililani Browning, Amber Namaka Whitehead, and Natalie Kurashima, to discuss restoration strategies for Pu’u Kaliu, only a short ways up Highway 130 from Keau’ohana. Although the Pu’u Kaliu site has experienced a very rapid degradation of its native forest over the past few years, the rare ‘ohe tree and the endangered ha’iwale are relatively abundant there. Collaborating together may help to secure rare and endangered species in both locations.
In the morning, Jaya facilitated a group event in the forest with a dozen students from the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences. Teacher, Heather Gleason, has an environmental science degree and seeks to convey the importance in taking care of the land to her students. After the brief Hawaiian protocol and educational talk/orientation, students conducted the hand pulling of invasive species and re-established compost piles in the lower west volunteer area. Principle weeds in order of severity included erichtites clidemia, thimble berry, basket grass, waiawi, cecropia.
On Friday, April 26th the 31st annual Earth Day Celebration Conservation Career Day Event was held at the University of Hawai’i in Hilo. Over 1500 students and teachers from local schools attended. It was a bustling day full of education and fun for the kids.
Hawaii Environmental Restoration tabled this event and engaged with many curious minds to explain about the Keau’ohana Native Rainforest project and its importance to Hawaii. Informational exhibits and science demonstrations, and many other engaging activities were offered as were free plants and other giveaways throughout the day. It is so essential for our young people to be exposed to opportunities like this that honor and respect our precious planet.
The Hawai’i Academy of Arts and Science in Pahoa held its 3rd annual Tropical Living Festival. We offered community outreach for the Keau’ohana Forest project at this Big Island’s community, culture, and environment event. We recruited 9 new volunteers and enjoyed connecting with interested people and supporters about the work involved in keeping this precious forest resource. As part of a senior project, Mahina’s offered 50 hours of volunteer time both at this event and in the forest. Mahalo Mahina!
We enjoyed having 13 Hilo University students and their kumu Heather Kimball, in the forest for a couple hours of restoration work on April 8th. This field experience was a service learning opportunity to support the practical application for their education in ecological studies.
A dozen community volunteers appeared for a lovely spring equinox day in the forest. Our restoration efforts helped to clear a large area in the forest just south of the east volunteer circle (see site map). Out-lying albizia and cecropia trees on the outside edge of the restoration site were treated as well, which will help minimize the spread of seed into the interior. It was a great day! Thank you forest supporters!!!
We had the privilege of having a very dynamic group come in from Les Trois Basin, on the Island of La Reunion, very near to the island of Madagascar in Africa. A total of 20 attendees accrued 70 work hours in invasive species control, hand-pulling, composting of weeds, and wood consolidation in a sizable area below the west volunteer loop.
La Reunion is a french colony and many of the students and several of their teachers did not know much English. It was very fortunate that Jaya, the project coordinator for Keau’ohana Restoration efforts, is French Canadian, and was therefore able to facilitate a very meaningful exchange with the visiting group.
An enthusiastic Americore group of adults from Maharishi University, Iowa joined our crew on February 13th. This was a substantial weeding effort that helped clear a large part of the west volunteer loop. A total of 20 attendees accrued 80 work hours on this very enjoyable day.
Invasive species control make up a large part of our efforts and include the hand-pulling and composting of weeds. Dominant weeds included clidemia, waiawi, melastoma, erichtites, thimble berry and basket grass. We also, as is ususal, treated larger waiawi stragglers and come-back as well as consolidated dead wood from fallen trees and limbs.
Our native greenhouse director Ann Kobsa is now collaborating with the ‘Fruit Tree Planting Foundation’ in an effort to increase plantings in Keau’ohana. We are now planning on creating bi-annual plantings of 100 trees every year. Our first event happened on February 6th.
Tragically, so much of the upper-canopy structure in Keau’ohana has been compromised due to Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) over the past few years. One of our key restoration species is the ohe (Polyscias hawaiensis) because it is a large native and rare canopy tree that is fast growing that will help to replace the lost of shade.
During this event, 76 ohe trees were planted in the restoration site’s east and west volunteer loops. There were also 22 native akia and 2 loulou palms planted to make up 100 plantings. The efforts were very successful with a total of 97 work hours offered by both volunteer and crew members (16 attendees).