2018 Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium set for Feb. 9

January 18, 2018, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated January 18, 11:59 AM
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Symposium keynote speaker Zak Zahari, new Director of Lyon Arboretum, will describe an experimental conservation project in Costa Rica that has produced an amazing ecological win. Sixteen years after a juice company dumped 1,000 truckloads of waste orange peel in a barren pasture in Costa Rica, the once desolate site is now a thriving, lush forest. Part of the treated area is shown at right in this aerial photo, with an untreated area at left. Photo courtesy of Tim Treue.

The 2018 Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium will highlight dryland forest ecology and restoration efforts in Hawai‘i on Friday, Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Hawai‘i’s dryland forests are fragile ecosystems supporting many of the rarest plants in the world. Once considered to be one of the most diverse forest ecosystems in the Hawaiian Islands, these habitats have suffered decades of deforestation and degradation with only patches remaining today.

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

This year’s event will feature presentations by scientists and conservationists who are working to learn about and preserve Hawaiian dryland forest plants and ecosystems. Keynote speaker Dr. Rakan Zahawi, the new director of the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, will deliver a presentation about dry forest restoration work in Costa Rica entitled “Project Orange: the Power of Agricultural Waste to Regenerate a Forest.”

Zahawi’s keynote will reveal how 16 years after 1,000 truckloads of orange peels were unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park that area is now covered in lush, vine-laden forest. Zahawi will be followed by Dr. Jonathan Price, from the Geography Department at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo, discussing how to develop real restoration baselines.


Other presenters will address native plant restoration at the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area, the Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project, micropropagation of native plants, the dryland forest at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, cultural reasons to restore dry forests, and the most recent information about Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death. The final sessions of the day will highlight regeneration, restoration, and educational and cultural programs at Ka’ūpūlehu.


The symposium will also include two optional half-day field trips: an excursion to U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) and a visit to the Queen Emma Land Company dryland forest restoration project to see native Hawaiian species replanting efforts in the grass-dominated pasturelands. The PTA excursion will be held on Thursday, Feb. 8; The dryland forest visit will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10. Each field trip is $40 per person and includes lunch.

The event is open to the public and early-bird registration is available for $75 per person until Jan. 30; registration after Jan. 30 will be $90 per person. Students with valid ID may register for $40 before Jan. 30, or $55 after. The registration includes lunch and parking at the hotel. For more information or to register, visit or contact Kathy Frost at [email protected] or (808) 325-6885. Organizations and individuals interested in sponsoring the symposium or contributing to student scholarships may also contact Frost by email or phone.

The Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium is a project of Ka‘ahahui ‘O Ka Nahelehele, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dry forest advocacy and partnerships.



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