Hawai‘i Forest Institute Receives Funding for Conservation Efforts
The Hawai‘i Forest Institute (HFI) has received grant funding from the Cooke Foundation, Ltd. and Bill Healy Foundation to support its continuing outreach and restoration efforts aimed at sustaining native birds at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (KBCC) Discovery Forest.
In addition, runners who participated in the Hawai‘i Bird Conservation Marathon in December 2017 raised nearly $5,000 to benefit the KBCC Discovery Forest. The marathon hosted 87 participants who completed the race—thirty-three of them finished with a Boston Qualifying Time. Ornithologist and race director Robert Kennedy has already begun planning for a second marathon which will be held on Dec. 16, 2018.
“Registration has only been open for three weeks and we have over 90 people signed up,” said Kennedy. “We are setting the limit at 150 this year and I am hoping we can raise at least $5,000 for the KBCC Discovery Forest.”
“HFI is so honored and thankful for the funding recognition of the Cooke Foundation, Ltd., and the Bill Healy Foundation,” said HFI Executive Director Heather Simmons. “These grants will help our efforts in fostering understanding and long-term appreciation for Hawai‘i’s natural resources. And a special mahalo to everyone who coordinated, raced and enjoyed the Hawai‘i Bird Conservation Marathon; it was a wonderful race filled with runners who share the same passion for supporting Hawai‘i’s endemic birds.”
The KBCC Discovery Forest offers service-learning opportunities for volunteers, as well as habitats and food to help save endangered native birds from extinction. KBCC has been using conservation breeding and release techniques for more than 20 years to help save endemic bird species like the ‘alalā, puaiohi, palila, kiwikiu, ‘akeke‘e and ‘akikiki.
The KBCC Discovery Forest Stewardship Plan has been approved by the DLNRʻs Division of Forestry & Wildlife Forest Stewardship Committee. The plan describes procedures to restore four acres per year over a 10-year period. Since January 2015, 11.8 acres have been cleared and KBCC caretaker/outreach coordinator Iwikau‘ikaua Joaquin has engaged 2,097 volunteers who outplanted 8,991 native seedlings, including acacia koa, māmane, maile, ‘ōhi‘a, pa‘iniu, ōhelo, kawa‘u, kōlea, ōlapa, ‘uki’uki, popolo ku mai and pilo. Joaquin inspires youth to connect with their environment by facilitating service learning activities that join science and culture.
The Discovery Forest site is an endemic forest canopy with acacia koa and ‘ōhi‘a lehua as the pioneering species. The forest, which is at an elevation of 4,000 feet, was once grazed by cattle and is now primarily covered in non-native kikuyu grass. As a result, the site needs restoration efforts to add to the existing low density of native species.