Diverse dryland forests once thrived in many low rainfall areas of Hawaii Island, including on the leeward slopes of Hualalai. These forests played a vital role in the life of the Hawaiian people.
Less than 100 years ago, broad expanses of healthy forest stretched across the landscape of West Hawaii. However, once-common native trees have undergone an astounding decline in their populations and experts estimate that only 5 percent to 10 percent of dryland forest habitats in Hawaii and worldwide now remain. Only a few scattered remnant dry forest ecosystems survive today. These dryland forests are home to some of the world’s rarest native Hawaiian plants.
On Friday, Feb. 26, the 2010 Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium will highlight dryland forest ecology and restoration efforts in Hawaii. The symposium will be held at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort from 9 am to 5 pm. This year the conference will emphasize managing human impacts on Hawaiian dry forests.
The Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium features presentations by community stewards, educators, researchers, and conservationists. This year’s symposium will include talks about scientific and cultural perspectives on dry forest plants and ecosystems; climate change and its effects on Hawaiian dry forest; and backyard preservation as insurance for endangered plant recovery.
There will be other talks about growing the right plant in the right place, invasive weed management, non-native grasses and native plants, restoration efforts at Laiopua and the Pelekane Watershed Management Project on the Big Island and an update on insect threats to Hawaiian plants.
On Thursday, Feb. 25, there will be hands-on workshops including: 1) native plant propagation, 2) invasive weeds, and 3) fire mitigation relative to native plants.
The Nahelehele Symposium is a project of Kaahahui o ka Nahelehele, a non-profit organization dedicated to dry forest advocacy and partnerships. Sponsors of this symposium include Bishop Museum’s Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, The Kohala Center, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kamehameha Schools-LAD, Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort, Leonard Bisel Associates, LLC, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, Hawaii Forestry Industry Association and Hawaii Forest Institute.
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