Pana’ewa Zoo Discovery Forest Receives Funding for Phase II

The Cleo Foundation and the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and USDA Forest Service through Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program have contributed $10,000.00 each to the Pana’ewa Zoo Discovery Forest.

Kiwanis Kids volunteering at the Pana'ewa Zoo Discovery Forest.

Kiwanis Kids volunteering at the Pana’ewa Zoo Discovery Forest.

Along with an earlier contribution of $2,500.00 from the Captain Planet Foundation, the Hawai`i Forest Institute (HFI), Hawai`i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) and community partners are set to initiate Phase II of the project, which will include:

  • Clearing undesirable plants and trees;
  • Finalizing the Phase II landscape plan;
  • Engaging community volunteers in project workdays;
  • Creating interpretive signs and plant identification signs;
  • Installing viewing platforms; and
  • Creating web pages and articles documenting project activities.

“These generous contributions will allow us to iniate Phase II of the Pana’ewa Zoo Discovery Forest, a forest demonstration project at the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens in Hilo”, said HFI Executive Director Heather Simmons. “It is heartwarming to see so much support for the project from funders both here in Hawai’i and out-of-state,” she stated.

Circle K Volunteers planting at the Pana'ewa Zoo Discovery Forest.

Circle K Volunteers planting at the Pana’ewa Zoo Discovery Forest.

Phase I has engaged over 180 community volunteers in creating and maintaining native and agro-forest demonstration gardens.  Many of the volunteers are children, who are learning about the native and Polynesian-introduced plants from forestry educators during project workdays.  “We are very pleased that the project is providing education, recreation, and volunteer opportunities for so many community residents and visitors,” Simmons added.

The Pana’ewa Zoo Discovery Forest features a display of native, cultural and medicinal plants that once grew in the traditional farms and native forests of East Hawai’i, including Polynesian-introduced plants that arrived with voyaging canoes.  These “canoe plants”, along with many endemic species, play essential roles in Hawaiian culture, for food, fiber, tools, implements, building materials, and medicine. Many of these culturally significant plants can be found at the Discovery forest.


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