HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pittsburgh residents can become an expert adventurer in the lush lands of Hawaii without ever having to leave the city.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens recently opened Tropical Forest Hawai‘i: Aloha ‘Aina, which is 12,000 square-foot and 60-foot high. It’s the latest of tropical forest exhibits in an ongoing series at Phipps, which has also focused on Thailand, India, the Amazon, the Congo River Basin and Cuba.

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The exhibit offers a wide variety of native and endemic species with plant highlights that include koa, ʻōlulu, beach naupaka and hala. Phipps said many of the species exhibited are threatened or endangered in the wild. The exhibit aims to educate guests on reforestation efforts that are helping to preserve Hawaii’s precious biodiversity.

According to Phipps, a lot of researching, planning and curating went into this exhibit, with staff traveling to the islands to observe and explore the culture firsthand with assistance from the National Tropical Botanical Garden. During their trip in 2020, Phipps staff members kept a blog here.

“It was such an honor to work with our collaborators in Hawaii, including the National Tropical Botanical Garden, as well as scientists and cultural practitioners like Kawika Winter and Sam Gon,” said Adam Haas, Interpretive Specialist at Phipps. “Our goal was to give our visitors a glimpse into the Hawaiian worldview that recognizes and honors people’s inherent connection to the natural world.”

In addition to the Biocultural Conservation Hub, guests can enjoy a number of interactive stations that aim to bring to life the Hawaiian culture of “Aloha ‘Aina.” The exhibit explores ecosystem management practices, past and present, that can serve as a blueprint for addressing loss of biodiversity and climate change.

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Tropical Forest Hawai‘i: Aloha ‘Aina is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. on Fridays.