Connection with the land: students and volunteers plant 160 koa in Kaloko Mauka

Honua’ula Forest Reserve The Makaula ‘O’oma region welcomed the addition of new koa trees on Saturday as students and volunteers planted seedlings in the cloud forest in Kaloko mauka.

Dr. Richard Stevens, professor of history at Hawaii Community College – Palamanui led about 30 of his students and volunteers on the trail, located about 2,500 feet above sea level, to plant 160 of the endemic trees.

“We’ve been planting up there since 2003, when we got permission from the state Forestry and Wildlife Division (DLNR) to restore the upper canopy of this forest,” Stevens said. “All the koa were gone in 1,250 acres of state forest up there.”

Stevens explained that the ohia, which is abundant in the reserve, has a very narrow canopy, but with the disappearance of the koa, with their large umbrella canopy, much of the ecology was missing.

Kristin Lambert was one of the volunteers who came to plant the trees with her two children.

“I was looking for an opportunity to connect with the earth and involve the children,” she said as her boys found the perfect place to plant their seedlings.

Also at the plantation, a group from Bridge House was performing their “act of community service.”

Brenda Lee said she was up to the challenge.

“I really enjoyed doing that,” she said. “It was very refreshing to go to the mountains, very peaceful. Agriculture is a big part of our recovery. We take so much from the community, it’s our way of giving back.

Stevens said many volunteers have participated over the years, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, students and “many other people in the community.”

“We have had a lot of wonderful allies,” he said.

Since Stevents began planting the trees with his students, more than 60,000 plants have been grown in various locations in western Hawaii. It first sowed seedlings in 1990, marking the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. That day, they planted 10,000 trees in Kohala.

“The whole community has turned to this,” he recalls. “It was the start of our planting projects and we have been doing it ever since. “

Seedlings planted on Saturday came from the Waimea State Nursery. In return, Stevens collects seeds during sowing to replenish the state’s stock.

“This is the perfect place for the koa to return,” he said, explaining that the afternoon mist and rain provides water for the keiki trees. “They love it up there, so we have a really high success rate.”

Stevens said everyone in his class is expected to do 24 hours of “love and service to the earth” each semester, which is one-third of their grade.

“They love it. They are totally prepared for it,” he said.

Because his class is now available online, Stevens said his students do this service all over the island.

“Governor Ige and Suzanne Case (DLNR chairman) announced last week by 2030 that the state will have planted, conserved and restored 100 million trees as part of the global effort to do the same with a trillion trees, ”Stevens said. “I think it’s pretty amazing that our state is making a significant contribution to this effort. Great things are happening there because so many people really know that we need to do something for aina.

Stevens said everyone should plant trees.

“The Earth needs trees,” he said.

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