With several new hired forest technicians, restoration efforts in Keau’ohana brought a strong completion to 2022. Hawaii Environmental Restoration’s (HER) focuses now on more effectively caring for the forest by aspiring towards at least one systematic pass of the entire restoration site within a year. In fact it appears we may even be a couple months ahead of schedule as we near the completion of our 6th pass. HER long term commitment reveals a realistic approach to this cherished forest in crisis!
Community outreach and education this year has gained a post-pandemic momentum for a total of 22 Special Volunteer Events in celebration of Earth week/National Volunteer week/Hawaiian Native Plant month, our usual Solstice and Equinoxes quarterly event, and other special school and/or community group events (Taylor University, Indianna; Trinity University, BC Canada; Lake Champlain Waldorf, Vermont; BIPOC, Rustic Pathways, and our local UHH as customary). When considering all volunteer events in 2022, HER accumulated 879 volunteer hours from 218 volunteers, and a total of 247 seedlings were planted.
We at Hawaii Environmental Restoration face the future with growing inspiration and are sincerely grateful to all who recognize HER contribution to Hawaii’s challenged environment. This work can only be accomplished by joining forces with like-hearted people. We encourage you to please view our website blog ( https://hawaiienvironmentalrestoration.org/blog/) to learn more about the details of our year’s accomplishment made possible by you, our caring global community.
Have a look at our newly recorded youtube presentation (https://youtu.be/gB22srZoZ5U) on what it means to “Malama O Ka ‘Aina” / Take Care of the Land”, here in Hawai’i. It also shares about our environmental work in the forest and how this relates to questions of sustainability.
The end of the year is oh so near! It has been a rich one with so many wonderful volunteer opportunities in the rainforest! Among other special events in the fall, HER facilitated the usual quarterly Equinox planting event as well as a special BIPOC event to welcome the femmes and non-binary community from across the United States and abroad. BIPOC, which stands for Black/Indigenous/People of Color, is an acronym to recognize the struggles that people in Black and Indigenous communities share. We hope you visit our blog to witness some of those events and learn more about HER ever-growing environmental activity! https://hawaiienvironmentalrestoration.org/blog/
Next week, on November 29th of this month, HER will be participating in the Giving Tuesday campaign as well as offering another special planting event in the forest of Keauohana for those wishing to offer volunteer support. Plantings donated by Ann Kobsa will this time include at least 30 of the native 'ohe canopy tree and the 10 loulu palm! We are also looking forward to our Solstice planting event on December 17th to finish the year with promising beginnings for the coming year with well over 80 hapuù fern!
With several new hired forest technicians, restoration efforts in Keau’ohana have been going strong over the summer. Half a dozen of us have completed the consolidated site of ~20 acres within the fiscal year of June 2021 and June 2022, making it our 5th systematic pass! With the loss of native canopy due to Rapid ‘Ohi’a Death (ROD), Hawaii Environmental Restoration’s (HER) focuses now on more effectively caring for the most promising portions of the site, aspiring to complete two or more passes within a year. It is a dance that is constantly changing as dictated by the forest itself in a time of crisis; long term commitment reveals a realistic approach to this cherished forest’s resilience and conservation.
Community outreach and education has also regained (post-pandemic) a strong momentum with special volunteer events in celebration of Earth week/National Volunteer week/Hawaiian Native Plant month, as well as summer solstice. HER has tabled two Revitalize Puna events so far this yearco-hosted by the Kilauea Recovery Team and Council District 4. The goal of the quarterly activations is to bring community and County together regularly to share information and perspectives, build relationships, and increase trust and collaboration.
The summer was booked with weekly volunteer events through Rustic Pathways, an organization that operates intentionally designed transformative student-travel programs that empowers students through innovative and responsible travel experiences to positively impact lives and communities around the world. We brought in 6 groups over 6 weeks for a grand total of 90 volunteers who together accomplished 381 volunteer hours in Keau’ohana! It was a meaningful summer experience where students from all over the world received a hands-on opportunity to learn about the Hawaiian environment and culture during a two week adventure filled time here. Volunteerism makes up a significant part of HER efforts; when considering all of our volunteer events and support since January of 2022, HER has accumulated 729 volunteer hours from 168 volunteers. Most of these occasions were focused on invasive species control; however the Earth Week Event was also focused on the planting of 44 native seedlings donated by the Sierra Club and our usual Malama O Puna resource Center.
Aside from our weekly crew efforts in Keau'ohana, the New Year started off with a number of special events! In January a hardy group of student volunteers from Taylor University, Indianna! came to study ecosystem-to-organism level biology and ecology, wrapped in themes of Native Hawaiian culture and conservation ideals. One of their goals for this class trip was to instill in the students the importance of actually getting their hands dirty in the practice of stewardship. In addition to touring native ecosystems around the Big Island, they included a volunteer restoration experience in Keau’ohana, and it was truly a pleasure to work with such spirited youth.
In February, we hosted a University of Hawai’i at Hilo vegetation Class of 20 students with Dr. Jonathan Price. It was encouraging to hear many of the students well versed in Hawaiian Protocol as we chanted “E Ho Mai”! Together we discussed HER restoration project in light of the management challenges involved with confronting invasive plants, rapid ‘ohi’a death, and other threats.Other class objectives included learning the primary species and basic ecological characteristics of Lowland Wet Forest followed by an exercise in surveying tree size and abundance in managed vs. unmanaged plots.
HER first quarterly forest volunteer event of the year was celebrated in honor of March Spring Equinox for new beginnings! We are grateful to all 23 volunteers who came through on a glorious day together for the health and well being of Keau’ohana! We planted 70 Hapu’u, an important native fern that will contribute shade along with other planted tree species.
This month of April, Hawaii Environmental Restoration tabled at the Revitalize Puna Event to bring County and Community together! On the 18th we will hold another special volunteer event in the forest in honor of both Native Hawaiian Plant Month and National Volunteer Week. This occasion is in recognition of the importance and urgency in supporting the work being done to protect and cultivate threatened and endangered native plant species, as well as to recognize the power of volunteering as a force that transforms the world!
Hawaii Environmental Restoration’s (HER) is so thrilled to have become permanent members of the GlobalGiving community in October of this year! Though our first report is not due until January, we so wish to share our 2021 achievements with you before the New Year begins!
In 2021 our intensive restoration efforts continued on a weekly basis to protect the Keau’ohana rainforest; in June of this year, our crew completed the fourth systematic pass of Keau’ohana’s entire 30 acre restoration site, with additional passes in the volunteer loops and 1 mile trail system according to need (3-4/year).
In light of the pandemic, the forest has offered a context for people to safely disperse themselves, and volunteerism has not been too heavily compromised. Special education/restoration events were coordinated with a dozen groups both locally and nationally.This year the forest received restoration support from 112 volunteers, accruing 693 volunteer hours. A total of 311 trees were planted as well as a dozen endangered ha’iwale clusters all of which were started in our Kapoho nursery by Ann, our loyal local environmentalist. Drier periods such as we had during the Summer Solstice Event, were dedicated to weeding efforts, and are a great help as well because weed growth in the summer heat offers no mercy in Hawai’i!
The events held in Keau’ohana served the rainforest with a visible clearing of so many invasive plant in support of the native plant community while directly informing those attending with essential knowledge for the protection and improvement of Hawaii’s fragile environment. Invasive species can be overwhelming if one does not know what species are harmful to the environment or how to respond to them. One of our core goals is to help empower Hawai’i community members in responding to very real vegetation issues found in their own backyards. It is inspiring to see people develop an awareness of how to integrate native and Polynesian-introduced plant species into their lives as well. This kind of knowledge nourishes a more sustainable future for the lowland environment and for those of us who rely upon it.
Despite a couple difficult pandemic years with no government funding, the forest is still kicking thanks to volunteers and supporters like YOU. We gratefully continue our dedications to the environment and its people thanks to your kind generosities. Thank you so much for believing in us! We understand that there are countless critical causes to support on this precious planet, and it is an honor for us that you regard our mission and work as worthwhile!
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