OHA staff planted 1,000 native trees last month near the Kūkaniloko Birthing Stones site, a first step to return portions of the agency’s Wahiawā lands to the robust native forest that once existed there more than a century ago.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for OHA staff to participate in a mālama ʻāina project that furthers the vision of one of our legacy properties and benefits the community as well,” said Sylvia Hussey, OHA Ka Pouhana (Chief Executive Officer). “This is about healing this ʻāina and re-connecting our people to this special place. It’s exciting to think that this open field could one day be a thriving forest again, providing resources for cultural practitioners and enhancing the native ecosystem of the area.”
Today’s planting is part of OHA’s efforts to implement the agency’s Conceptual Master Plan for its Wahiawā lands. The plan envisions revitalizing the 511-acre property into a mixture of native forest and culturally aligned agriculture that complements the Kūkaniloko Birthing Stones and connects Native Hawaiians with the ʻāina. One of the goals of the plan is to begin to restore a native forest from what is currently a grassy field scarred from more than 100 years of intensive monocrop agriculture.
“This pilot project will help us refine reforestation techniques that will allow us to do more ambitious native tree plantings on other parts of our Wahiawā lands and serve as a model for other entities looking to restore native ecosystems throughout the islands,” said Taylor Asao, OHA Legacy Land Specialist.
Staff planted koa, lonomea and kou trees on about an acre of cleared land, located a few hundred yards from the Kūkaniloko Birthing Stones. The seedlings, ranging from about six to ten inches in height, were provided by the Carbon Neutrality Challenge, a joint project by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the Garden Club of Honolulu, Lyon Arboretum, Forest Botanical Garden and other organizations. The project aims to offset carbon emissions by restoring local ecosystems and planting trees.
For more information on OHA’s Wahiawā Lands, please visit www.oha.org/aina/kukaniloko.