Honolulu (KHON2) – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), is on a quest to plant, protect, and preserve 100 million trees, as part of an international initiative called the Trillion Trees Initiative.

The Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance, one of numerous watershed partnerships DLNR funds around the state, helps restore native trees and forests.

“We’re trying to restore this. The area goes between 6,000-8,00-foot elevation. We’re trying to make a bird corridor for native birds to move mauka. Over the past couple hundred years, it’s kind of changed and now it’s more pasture land area, and so it’s a connectivity project and it has to do with the mosquito line that’s changing with global warming, climate change,” says Cheyenne Perry, Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance.

Mosquitoes that carry avian malaria are quickly killing numerous species of native Honeycreeper, forest birds found nowhere else on earth.The bird corridor will allow birds to move even further upslope and escape the mosquitoes a bit longer. 

“It’s the preservation of additional conservation fences to protect 100 million trees, additional acquisition of lands that might be outside of the state or federal or other protections. Bringing that into the fold and putting that under legal protections, as well as the planting of additional trees,” says Leah Laramee, Hawai’i Climate Commission. 

Another benefit of watershed protection, a key component toward combating climate change impacts, is fencing of native forests to keep plant munching animals like goats, pigs, deer, and feral cattle away. Watershed partnership staff walk fenced areas regularly, from top-to-bottom to check for holes or other issues.

Perry says, “We have been successful as far as with restoration because we are producing seed. But the next thing to kind of look at is the grass, the grass cover. Most of our grasses are non-native grasses…Our hope is, that with time, what we’ll do is plant dense enough that we can create shade and leaf litter that will control or manage the grass, when that happens the true kind of sign that the restoration is working.”

To learn more and check progress on the national trillion tree campaign viewers can visit: us.1t.org/.  To get more on the State’s 30X30 Watershed Protection Initiative go to: dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/30×30/. That site also has information on the collaborative efforts of the 10 watershed partnerships in Hawaii, which include more than 70 public and private landowners and partners involved with over 2 million acres of land.