Ulu Lehulehu “Million ‘Ōhi‘a Initiative” promotes the protection, planting and restoration of ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), a Hawai‘i endemic tree and the monarch of Hawaii’s natural world. The Ulu Lehulehu Initiative is a Hawai‘i Island partnership that has reached thousands of students and community members since the initiative began in 2012. ‘Ōhi‘a is a pillar of Hawaii’s host culture and an ecological keystone species that makes up greater than eighty percent of Hawaii’s native forests. ‘Ōhi‘a is threatened with extinction across its broad range because of invasive species, land-use and introduced plant diseases. The Foundation will support state-wide replanting and restoration of ‘Ōhi‘a forests. Through youth engagement and community education we will increase public awareness about the cultural and ecological importance of ‘Ōhi‘a, encouraging planting in residential, public, and protected areas, and empowering the public to follow best practices for managing the threat and spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD).
Cultural Keystones Initiative promotes the planting and restoration of plant species of high cultural and ecological value to Hawai‘i, including Kamani, Kou, Milo, Kauila, Iliahi, Alahe‘e, and Lama. These trees are featured in the stories, practices and ceremonies of Native Hawaiians, serve multiple traditional uses, and support the persistence of Hawaii’s host culture. The Foundation will support the programs that feature the use of these culturally iconic species in community management forests, and in biocultural restoration efforts, including both natural protected areas and the built environment.
The Koa Initiative promotes traditional improvement and planting of Acacia koa, a fast-growing tree species found only in Hawai‘i and the state’s premier timber species. The mighty Koa is one of the world’s finest sources of timber used for instruments, furniture, fine art, and Hawaiian sailing canoes. Because Koa has a high capacity to enrich soils, create critical habitat for endangered forest birds, sequester carbon, and provide shade for other native plants, this ecological and cultural keystone is also ideally suited for restoration of Hawaii’s degraded pasture lands. The Koa Initiative will support diverse projects focusing on returning Koa forest cover in Hawai’i including tree improvement, partnership-driven watershed restoration, smaller stewardship projects, regeneration, silviculture, sustainable harvesting, and conservation genetics.