Categorized | Environment

HFIA launches Mahalo Aina program to plant more trees


There is little doubt today that Hawaii’s forests are critically important to the health and well being of Hawaii’s people.

For the past 25 years the Hawaii Forest Industry Association (HFIA) has practiced and promoted sustainability for Hawaii’s forests before sustainability was added to today’s lexicon.

HFIA has worked consistently through the years to maintain the integrity, diversity and ecosystem functions of Hawaii’s forests.

These forests provide watershed, soil, and species habitat protection as well as recreational, cultural and employment opportunities for Hawaii’s people.

“The volunteers and leadership of the Hawaii Forest Industry Association understood over 25 years ago how critically important forests are to the Hawaiian culture, the health and well being of Hawaii’s people and the state’s economy,” said HFIA Executive Director Heather Simmons. “We are always looking for opportunities to plant trees in the right places to ensure that we have healthy forests for tomorrow’s keiki.”

To celebrate 25 years of forestry stewardship, HFIA and its sister organization, Hawaii Forest Institute, are launching a new project, Mahalo Aina: Give Back to the Forest campaign to ensure that our forests are here for future generations.

Hawaii Forest Industry Association is partnering with the Hawaii Forest Institute (HFI) to launch its Mahalo Aina: Give Back to the Forest program.

The program seeks to expand public and private partnerships to gain support for the protection and perpetuation of Hawaii’s forest resources.

“Protecting and perpetuating Hawaii’s forest ecosystems is everyone’s kuleana. This new program will provide resources to plant more trees,” HFIA Executive Director Heather Simmons said. “The work we do today in ecosystem management and stewardship will ensure our forests for the next seven generations.”

The Mahalo Aina: Give Back to the Forest Campaign will be the initial launch of Hawaii Forest Institute’s first, long-term, self-sustaining, outreach program.

During the first year of the campaign, HFI seeks to raise $75,000 for its forest restoration and demonstration projects.

Funds raised will help support seed collection and storage, propagation, planting and long-term care of seedlings, site maintenance, and educational programs.

In addition to planting trees, the program will help to support total ecosystem management, provide forest stewardship opportunities and environmental and cultural education.

The Mahalo Aina: Give Back to the Forest program will initially benefit the following projects on Hawaii Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai:

* Hawaii Island Native Hawaiian Seed Bank Cooperative
* Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest
* Aina Mauna Christmas Tree Demonstration Project
* Kaloko Makai Dryland Forest Preserve
* Kapapala Canoe Forest
* Kaupulehu Dryland Forest
* Keauhou Bird Conservation Center Discovery Forest
* Kua O Ka La Public Charter School
* LaiOpua Dryland Habitat Preserve
* Palamanui Dry Forest Preserve
* Honokohau National Historical Park & Puuhonua O Honaunau Restoration
* Maui Bird Conservation Center Discovery Forest (in exploration stage)
* Panaewa Zoo Discovery Forest
* Kokee Forest Reserve

The Mahalo Aina: Give Back to the Forest program’s educational component will provide volunteer opportunities for visitors and kamaaina to help everyone learn about Hawaii’s heritage of sustainable forestry and gain a greater appreciation for Hawaii’s forest ecosystems and the many threats they face.

The vision of replacing former sugar lands with forests, the desire to reclaim koa forests and expand them, the need to improve technology and teach landowners about forest issues ranging from tree nutrition to invasive species have all been topics discussed at HFIA symposiums through the years.

These well attended symposiums included the always popular Koa Symposiums, Harvest to Market Symposium, Nāhelehele Dry Forest Symposium, and Growing Forests for Hawaii’s Future Symposium on Kauai.

HFIA projects include Kaupulehu Dryland Forest Restoration, Panaewa Zoo Discovery Forest, Keauhou Bird Conservation Center Discovery Forest, and the iconic Hawaii’s Woodshow, Na Laau o Hawaii.

Since 1989, more than 8,000 community volunteers have helped plant seedlings at HFIA’s forest restoration and demonstration projects.

These projects encompass more than 1,500 acres and 40 acres of native dryland forest habitat has been restored.

Over the last 25 years HFIA has been led by Presidents Peter D. Simmons, Mike Robinson, Lloyd Jones, Sally Rice, Steve Smith, Tai Lake, and Nicholas Koch, and Executive Directors Mike Robinson, Andie Gill, Myra Ikeda and Heather Simmons.

Mike Robinson said it best years ago, “Perhaps, most importantly, many people will once more experience the land and what it can provide — aesthetics, recreation, income, wildlife habitat, clean and abundant water — the bounty of the forest.”

For further information, contact Simmons at 808-933-9411 or email:

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