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KS Keaau 4th grade 4-24-2015The KBCC Discovery Forest is providing service-learning opportunities for volunteers and habitat and food for native birds.  Using conservation breeding and release techniques, for over 20 years, the KBCC has been saving critically endangered Hawaiian birds from extinction and restoring these species in the wild.  Birds being cared for at the KBCC are the ‘Alalā, Puaiohi, Palila, Kiwikiu, ‘Akeke‘e, and ‘Akikiki.

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.

Project Progress

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 March 2014, 13.8 acres have been cleared and 2,744 volunteers have outplanted 10,416 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 Atherton Family Foundation and Cooke Foundation, Limited grants for 2017 and a Bill Healy Foundation grant for 2018.  The Dorrance Family Foundation recently awarded HFI $27,000 for the project.

A Hawaii Bird Conservation Marathon was held in December 2017.  There were 100 runners in race and $4,188 was raised through the marathon for the KBCC Discovery Forest.  Bob Kennedy, Ornithologist/Race Director is a member of the Big Island Road Runners, is President of the 50sub4 Marathon Club, and has run 182 marathons and ultra marathons (Finisher, Boston Qualifying Time in all 50 States; 50 States Marathon Club Finisher 2X; Marathon Maniacs – 10 Stars; 100 Marathon Club; New England 65 Plus Runners Club).  Mahalo to runners who donated.

The second annual Hawaii Bird Conservation Marathon will be  held December 16, 2018.  So far, $3,550 in donations has been raised for the KBCC Discovery Forest.

Iwi Joaquin gave a talk on the Discovery Forest at the 2018 Hawaii Conservation Conference.

KBCC Discovery Forest-Forest Stewardship Plan 2016

KBCC Discovery Forest Project Summary

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 fruiting species 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.

KBCC is part of the San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, which conducts breeding and release activities to preserve and restore endemic Hawaiian birds.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide.  The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

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. ( Information provided by KBCC Conservation Programs Manager Bryce Masuda.

O’o Hawaii Supports KBCC Discovery Forest

For every online sale, O’o Hawaii donates $1.00 to the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center Discovery Forest program.  Learn more about O’o Hawaii at here.

American Forests’ Global ReLeaf
Atherton Family Foundation
Bill Healy Foundation
Cooke Foundation
Dorrance Family 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


HTA Logo American Forests logo-anniversary_horiz-logo

Forest Solutions, Inc.
Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association
Hawai‘i Forest Institute
Kamehameha Schools
Keauhou Bird Conservation Center
Hawaiian Endangered Bird Conservation Program
San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

Public Relations

Native Hawaiian Trees Planted in Collaborative Effort Press Release-May 1, 2014

April 2014 Newsletter Article

HFIA Winter E-news Article


Atherton and Cooke press release 7-18-2017

Hawaii Tribune Herald: Restoring native habitat: Grants to go toward forest stewardship, bird conservation 7-21-2017

KBCC DF Volunteer Survey Quiz


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