Categorized | Environment, Featured

Restoration of koa forest improves endangered Hawaiian bird habitat

Punahou students lend a hand at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Punahou students lend a hand at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


Hawaii’s forests are critically important to the health and well-being of Hawaii’s endemic wild birds.

A $10,000 grant from the Bill Healy Foundation to the Hawaii Forest Institute (HFI) will help to restore two additional acres of native forest habitat, provide fruit and perching limbs for birds in captivity, and provide an estimated 400 youth with a “place based” learning experience at the San Diego Zoo Global’s (SDZG) Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (KBCC) Discovery Forest.

An additional 1,200 native seedlings will be outplanted, which will benefit Hawaiian birds in captivity and in the wild.

“We are extremely grateful to the Bill Healy Foundation for supporting our mission of promoting the health and productivity of Hawaii’s forests through the KBCC Discovery Forest, which is located near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island,” said HFI Executive Director Heather Simmons. “This unique project is combining native forest restoration with captive propagation and release techniques to reestablish self-sustaining populations of critically endangered Hawaiian birds in the wild.”

Understory fruiting species will be planted in the area once a koa forest has been re-established.

The native fruiting species are key to the diets of the rare Hawaiian bird species. The endangered birds in the SDZG’s captive breeding and release program will benefit along with the native wild birds.

“We appreciate the support of the Bill Healy Foundation as we continue to work together with HFI to integrate education and stewardship with our captive breeding and release efforts of endemic Hawaiian birds,” said SDZG Conservation Program Manager Bryce Masuda. “It is vitally important that we preserve and restore the unique bird species found only here in Hawaii for future generations.” The KBCC Discovery Forest is a native forest restoration and education project initiated in 2014 on approximately 200-acres of land. To date, 120 community volunteers have outplanted 856 seedlings on 1.8 acres.

The land is owned by Kamehameha Schools and licensed to San Diego Zoo Global, which operates KBCC as part of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program.

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