Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium in Kailua-Kona

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A‘ali‘i is an indigenous Hawaiian shrub that occurs naturally throughout the main Hawaiian Islands, and in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. This shrub is found in many different habitats including coastal dunes, lava fields, dry and wet forests, and from low elevations to subalpine shrubland. Courtesy photo.

The 2017 Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium will be held on Friday, Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

The symposium, which is open to the public, will highlight dryland forest ecology and restoration efforts in Hawai‘i.

The dryland forests of Hawai‘i are fragile habitats that are home to many of the rarest plants in the world.

Dryland forests were once considered to be the most diverse forest ecosystems in the Hawaiian Islands, but have suffered decades of deforestation and degradation.

Only remnant patches of these habitats of highly diverse communities of plants and animals remain today.


The Dryland Forest Symposium provides a forum to discuss recent developments in dryland forest conservation and restoration, and an opportunity to interact with others interested in dryland forest ecology.

This year’s symposium will feature presentations by scientists and conservationists who are working to learn about and preserve Hawaiian dryland forest plants and ecosystems.

Keynote speaker Dr. Camilo Mora from the Department of Geography at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, will deliver a presentation entitled “We Punch Nature and It Will Punch Us Back.” Mora’s keynote will examine the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and climate change feedbacks on people. Mora will be followed by Dr. Chris Wada from the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization who will discuss the restoration costs for dryland forest ecosystems.

Other presenters will address conservation efforts for the Hawaiian ‘alala crow, the ongoing rapid ‘ohi‘a death epidemic on Hawai‘i Island, the ecological value of small versus large restoration projects, the dryland forest Hui Ohana, and updates on restoration efforts on Kaho‘olawe and at Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund’s Ka‘u Forest Reserve project at Waiohinu.

The final session of the day will highlight the legacy of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden.


Maiapilo is a non-edible member of the caper family, and is often called the Hawaiian caper. It is endemic to Hawai‘i and is considered at risk of extinction. Courtesy photo

There will be a special screening of the movie Seed: The Untold Story on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Keauhou Stadium 7 theater. Seed: The Untold Story is a feature-length documentary featuring Vandana Shiva, Dr. Jane Goodall, Andrew Kimbell and Winona LaDuke, following passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000-year-old food legacy. The cost is $11.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go online.

For more information about the film screening, contact Jill Wagner at [email protected].

Early registration for the symposium is available for $75 per person until Feb. 14; after Feb. 14 registration is $90 per person.

The Hawai‘i Forest Institute is sponsoring discounts for students with valid ID, who may register for $40 before Feb. 14 or $55 after.


All registration fees include lunch and parking at the hotel.

More information and registration are available online or by contacting Cortney Okumura at The Kohala Center at [email protected] or (808) 443-2757. Purchase orders are not accepted.

Two optional half-day field trips will also be offered.

  • An excursion on Thursday, Feb. 23, will visit Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and include information about the native plants and fishpond restoration efforts currently underway.
  • The Saturday, Feb. 25, outing will visit Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve and provide cultural, ecological, and economic perspectives on the value of habitat restoration in Hawai‘i.

Each field trip is $35 per person and includes lunch.

The Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium is a project of Ka‘ahahui ‘O Ka Nahelehele, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dry forest advocacy and partnerships. Symposium sponsors include Mark and Carol Ann Solien, Hawai‘i Forest Institute through their Mahalo ‘Aina Initiative, State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and The Kohala Center. Organizations and individuals interested in sponsoring the symposium or contributing to student scholarships may contact Kathy Frost at [email protected] or (808) 325-6885.

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