The Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (KBCC) Discovery Forest is providing service learning opportunities for volunteers and habitat and food for native birds. Using captive propagation and release techniques, KBCC is reestablishing self-sustaining populations of critically endangered Hawaiian birds in the wild. Critically endangered birds being bred in captivity at KBCC are the Alalā, Puaiohi, Palila, and Kiwikiu.
KBCC Caretaker/Outreach Coordinator Iwi Joaquin coordinates the student groups and inspires youth to connect with their environment by facilitating service learning activities, which connect science with culture. Iwi has ancestral connections to these lands and shares traditional stories about the history of the place and its people and fosters a responsibility to family, community and homeland.
The Division of Forestry & Wildlife Forest Stewardship Committee approved the Forest Stewardship Plan, which describes procedures to restore four acres per year over 10 years. Since January 2015, 9.8 acres have been cleared and 1,334 volunteers have outplanted 6,541 seedlings, including Acacia koa, Māmane, Maile, ‘Ōhi‘a, Pa‘iniu, Ōhelo, Kawa‘u, Kōlea, Ōlapa, ‘Ohāwai, ‘Uki’uki, Popolo ku mai, and Pilo.
HFI received an Atherton Family Foundation grant and a second grant award from American Forest Global Releaf for 2017.
The land is owned by Kamehameha Schools and leased to KBCC, which is part of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program, a partnership between the San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The objectives of the KBCC Discovery Forest are to:
- Restore an endemic forest canopy with Acacia koa and ‘Ōhi’a Lehua as the pioneer species;
- Restore an endemic forest understory with fruiting trees and shrubs;
- Improve habitat quality for endemic wild birds;
- Provide hands-on education for students, with an emphasis on the connection between rare endemic birds and their habitat; and
- Provide forest materials (fruits, browse, and perching) for captive birds at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center.
Koa is important from a conservation perspective because it provides habitat for native plants and animals. On the Island of Hawai‘i, 10 endemic, extant forest bird species are currently found in forests where koa is a dominant or associated species. Koa also fixes nitrogen and is the dominant of crown cover in some areas. Koa provides watershed protection and is a very important part of Hawaiian culture.
Birds forage on insects on and within the koa tree and use tree cavities for nesting. Wild bird species such as ‘Akiapōlā‘au are koa specialists and require large, old-growth koa trees for foraging on insect larvae. ‘Akepa use koa for foraging and nesting in cavities. ‘Ōma‘o also nest in koa tree cavities.
Birds in captivity at KBCC will eat many of the native understory fruiting species that will be planted in the Discovery Forest. These understory fruiting species will include Hō‘awa, Kōlea, Maile, Māmaki, Māmane, ‘Ōhelo, ‘Ōlapa, Pilo, and ‘Ie‘ie. ‘Alala will eat fruit from all of these species, except Māmane. Puaiohi will eat fruit from all of these species, except Hō‘awa, Māmane, and ‘Ie‘ie. Palila will eat only Māmane seeds. Maui Parrotbill will eat fruit from Kōlea, ‘Ōhelo, ‘Ōlapa, and Pilo.
The Discovery Forest, which is at an elevation is 4,000 foot, was once grazed by cattle and is now primarily covered in non-native kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum). As a result, there is great potential to restore the site and add to the existing collection of native species, which are found in low densities. The KBCC site is licensed to the Zoological Society of San Diego by Kamehameha Schools.
The KBCC is part of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, a partnership among San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife. The Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program breeds endangered Hawaiian birds in captivity, for release back into the wild.
The mission of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program is to prevent the extinction and promote the recovery of endangered Hawaiian birds. The program started in 1993, and the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center opened in 1996. KBCC currently breeds four species of birds in captivity, for the purposes of releasing birds to restore wild populations, and ultimately to restore the land.
Kamehameha Schools (KS) is a private charitable educational trust endowed by the will of Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884), the great-granddaughter and last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I. The mission of Kamehameha Schools is to improve the capability and well-being of Hawaiians through education. KS achieves its mission by operating an educational system serving over 6,900 students of Hawaiian ancestry at K-12 campuses on O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i island, and at 31 preschool sites statewide. As Hawaii’s largest private landowner, KS is responsible for the stewardship of over 365,000 acres of land on Hawai‘i island, Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. A small fraction of Princess Pauahi’s lands are in commercial real estate and properties. Over 358,000 acres of the trust’s lands are dedicated to conservation and agriculture. (http://www.ksbe.edu/about/). Information provided by KBCC Conservation Programs Manager Bryce Masuda.
American Forests’ Global ReLeaf
Atherton Family Foundation
Bill Healy Foundation
Friends of Hawaii Charities
Hawai‘i Community Foundation
Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Natural Resources Program
DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife Forest Stewardship Program
In honor of Marla Dorrel & Gary Craven
Forest Solutions, Inc.
Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association
Hawai‘i Forest Institute
Keauhou Bird Conservation Center
Hawaiian Endangered Bird Conservation Program
San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research