Re-establishing native hardwoods (Acacia koa) to provide habitat for native Hawaiian birds is the main purpose of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge reforestation project on the big island of Hawaii. Koa helps create an overstory so native plants can recapture the site from non-native vegetative competition. Seed collection, nursery production and difficulties created by El Nino weather suggested a 5-year time frame. 42,000 trees were planted in 1995, the fifth and final year of the project. The total amount at the end of five years was 150,650 trees, which exceeded the original proposed amount of 126,000. American Forests's Global ReLeaf program boosted Hakalau's rehabilitation, leading to increased local environmental awareness and greater knowledge and development in montane rainforest restoration. Its success inspired other projects throughout Hawaii, including plantings on old sugar plantations. It is expected to take three hundred years for the forest to recover from two centuries of damage, but planting projects like this one set them on the right track.
This project was supported by our corporate partner, the Alcoa Foundation.
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