Over 100 Attendees Gather for “Growing Koa in Hawai’i Nei” Symposium

The Hawai’i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) announced today that 110 people attended the “Growing Koa in Hawai’i Nei” Symposium held at Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) in Volcanos National Park on November 16th. Over 40 of them participated in the tour of Keauhou Ranch, Ka’u the following day.

Koa Symposium Keauhou Ranch Tour participants in koa stand

Koa Symposium Keauhou Ranch Tour participants in koa stand

The symposium brought together landowners, foresters, students and others interested in growing koa, for a day of panel discussions and presentations to promote sustainable forestry practices and to share the latest research on koa reforestation in Hawai’i.

“We are very pleased with the interest shown in Hawai’i’s koa industry by business owners, forestry professionals, students and other participants,” said Heather Simmons, HFIA Executive Director. “Attendance exceeded our expectations. We are encouraged by their commitment to protect, preserve and grow Hawai’i’s most popular indigenous hardwood and one of the most valuable timbers in the world,” Simmons stated.

Symposium highlights included:

  • An opening cultural protocol, “Koa mo’ōlelo,” by Cheyenne Hiapo Perry, Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance Coordinator.
  • Keynote speech by Dr. Charles Michler, Director of the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) at Purdue University, Indiana and the Tropical HTIRC in Hawai’i. His compelling presentation addressed ways to take advantage of genetic variation that exists within koa trees for a desired suite of traits and discussed research being conducted in Hawai’i.
  • A koa mapping exercise and a preliminary report of the “Distribution of Koa Growers Survey,” by Julie Gaertner, graduate student in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science program at University of Hawai’i (UH) Hilo.
  • “2020: A Clear Vision” group goal setting plan for koa forests in the year 2020, facilitated by Mike Robinson, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) Property Development Agent and HFIA Director, assisted by Peter Simmons, HFIA Director and former Regional Land Asset Manager for Kamehameha Schools.

The Keauhou Ranch tour included visits to a 3 to 6-year old koa plantation and to various koa stands where trials are being conducted by Kamehameha Schools on koa stand thinning. Led by Kamehameha Schools’ Land Asset Manager and forester Kama Dancil, Forest Solutions foresters Thomas Baribault, Ph.D. and Nicolas Koch, and University of Hawai’i’s forester J.B. Friday, Ph.D., the tour provided an excellent example of large-scale koa forest restoration.

Matching young-growth koa end tables by Ron Hester displayed at symposium.

Matching young-growth koa end tables by Ron Hester displayed at symposium.

Symposium sponsors included the County of Hawai’i Department of Research & Development, Tropical Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry & Wildlife (DOFAW), Awapuhi Farms & Mill, Hawaii Forest & Trail, and DHHL.

More information about the event, speakers, and planning committee can be found on the Symposium webpage. Results of the koa mapping and goal setting exercises along with a video of the talks will be posted on the site after the first of the year. Learn more about the young-growth koa study at the Young-growth Koa Study webpage.


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