$5 million in funding headed to Hawai‘i for forest enhancement
Communities in Hawaiʻi rely on fresh water from our mauka forests to maintain homes, farms and businesses.
A new federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide $5 million for forest enhancement in Hawaiʻi under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
The funds are awarded to the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and will be leveraged by additional funds provided by the Hawaiʻi Legislature. The funds will support invasive weed control and restoration of native plant communities on non-industrial, privately-owned forest lands.
“Our forests don’t follow landowner boundaries,” said Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson Dawn Chang. “Working with private landowners to improve the health of forested areas on their lands benefits us all. We are grateful to our partners at NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service] for their support in this important work.”
In addition to the production of fresh water, native forests reduce the risk of flooding and erosion associated with degraded landscapes. Improved forests also sequester carbon, and provide habitat for native species. Hawaiʻi has more than 400 endangered species or roughly one-third of the nation’s federally listed endangered species.
The funds are expected to provide local job opportunities in assisting with restoration activities including brush management, tree planting, weed removal and control, and wildlife habitat management.
Project leaders estimate the funds will result in the planting of 75,000 trees. Previous awards from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service were used by the Department of Land and Natural Resources in “win-win” projects with agricultural producers, including support for removing invasive species and planting native trees at Parker Ranch on Hawai‘i Island. The Department of Land and Natural Resources plans to seek similar partnerships with this new influx of federal funding.