Arbor Day in Hawai`i
If you are a fan of trees, then you won’t want to miss another Arbor Day! Arbor Day is the one-day, formally designated across our entire nation to honor, plant and enjoy trees. In Hawaiʻi, Arbor Day has been celebrated for over 100 years. Kaulunani, Urban and Community Forestry Program and Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) partnered 20 years ago to support their first Arbor Day. Their Arbor Day support has grown from a distribution of 300 trees on Oahu that first year to multi-island events where 7,000 – 8,000 trees are given away each year across the state. Community leaders on each island host the events providing plants, professionals who teach how to plant and care for the trees, education, volunteers and even compost and mulch.
In November all across Hawaiʻi people celebrate trees with free tree giveaways, tree planting, gardening demonstrations and woodworking and craft exhibits. Over 7200 trees are given away to residents on Kauaʻi, Maui, Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu.
Be sure to mark your calendar for November 7th, 2015 (Saturday following the First Friday in November) – so that you and your family can join in the celebration of trees in Hawaiʻi. To learn specific dates, times and locations for celebrations near you visit Arbordayhawaii.org
“Arbor Day gives us the important opportunity to share with the community of [Hawaii] the importance of urban forestry, and a grander scale, the importance of how urban forestry impacts the entire ecosystem of Hawaii.
Keren Gundersen, Project Manager, Kauai Invasive Species Committee
Today, advocates of Arbor Day in Hawaiʻi are big proponents of native and Polynesian introduced plants with a sprinkling of food trees and soil saving ground covers thrown in. The island giveaways have become a way to celebrate trees and gather with friends, new and old. Each islands’ giveaway has taken on a special character. Featured below are glimpses into the celebrations across the State.
On Hawaiʻi Island Amy Greenwell Botanic Garden holds a celebration offering a mix of educational exhibits promoting the value of traditional plants and a wood carving jamwhich take place at the same time as the tree giveaway. This year Amy Greenwell gave away just over 500 trees, all native or Polynesian Introduced including ke’o, ma’o hau hele, koa, manele, hala, halapepe, and ohi’a ‘ai. Peter Van Dyke, Director of the Botanical Garden knows that “Everybody has their own reason for wanting to take a tree home and plant it and almost everybody who comes for a tree comes willing to spend a long time talking about trees and considering the best tree for their garden. They take this very seriously.”
At another site on Hawaiʻi Island, Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School has embraced Arbor Day as a venue to promote the importance of Hawaiian forests and resources. This year marks the 12th annual Arbor Day for the school! A total of 55 adults and students participated in the two-day event. Native and Polynesian introduced plants were the main focus of this giveaway and over 831 trees were distributed including Kou, Puhala, Kukui, Milo,
Coconut and ‘Ohi’a trees. Kua O Ka Lā PCS is also going to plant 100 trees at the Makuʻu Farmers Association in recognition of Arbor day and our long term partnership.
Kauai Island has a very strong local commitment to Arbor Day. The Kauai Landscape Industry Council and a strong team of local sponsors see Arbor Day as an opportunity to bring the community together to learn how they can become involved in preserving Kauai’s biodiversity and ecosystem health. This year nearly 1900 trees were distributed featuring an assortment of native trees, shrubs, and groundcovers, Kauai residents consistently ask for fruit trees so several types were offered–white capote, star apple, bilimbi, and breadfruit. Kauai also distributes non-invasive popular ornamentals including Kauai Beauty ti, African gardenia, and pua kenikeni.
Volunteers and partners for the event are numerous and include conservation groups from around Kauai, as well as hotels, The UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the native plant society, National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee. Nearly 700 community members stopped by to get a free plant.
On Maui the main celebration site for Arbor Day is also at a botanic garden–the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. This organization uses the opportunity to promote the planting of trees in our urban community and to showcase over 30 species of Hawaiian trees from well known plants like pandanus, kamani and koa to the more unusual such as uki uki and Ko’oloa’ula. This year over 1,300 trees were distributed! Arbor Day on Maui brought over 1,200 people together as volunteers and participants eager to get their free tree. “It is because of Kaululnani’s support, that we are able to name MNBG’s Arbor Day 1,000 Hawaiian Tree Giveaway as one of Maui Nui Botanical Gardens’ most celebrated annual signature events.”
On Oahu, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and its partners gave away 2,700 trees and shrubs at six locations across the island. This year Hawaiian Electric commemorated the 20th anniversary of its Arbor Day tree giveaways. To celebrate, the company sponsored 20 koa trees to be planted by the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative. At the Arbor Day Tree Giveaway participants were given the opportunity to win a legacy koa tree planted in their name.
Hawaii Arbor Day Organizers
Amy Greenwell Botanic Garden
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
County of Maui Department of Water Supply
Department of Forestry and Wildlife
Garden Island Resource and Conservation Development, Inc.
Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.
Hawaii Electric Light Company
Kauai Invasive Species Committee
Kauai Landscape Industry Council
Kauai Nursery and Landscaping
Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program
Keep in Native
Kua o Ka Lā Public Charter School
Kului Grove Shopping Center
Makuu Farmers Market
Maui Electric Company
Maui Nui Botanic Garden
National Tropical Botanical Garden
UH Urban Garden Center
Waimea Valley Botanic Garden
Kaulunani is a federally funded urban and community forestry program of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the USDA Forest Service. The program is operated by the non-profit organization Friends of Hawaii’s Urban Forest (dba Smart Trees Pacific.)