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Hawaiʻi Community College Pālamanui adds 706-acre forest preserve to campus

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Hawaʻiʻi Community College Pālamanui in Kailua-Kona is gaining an additional 706-acre forest preserve to its campus.

The area is currently under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. It will now be managed collaboratively with the University of Hawaiʻi.

The lowland dry forest ecosystem is filled with native plants, and ancient Hawaiian trails and archaeological sites. The forest preserve will become an outdoor classroom and laboratory where students can take history and science courses.

History lecturer Dr. Richard Stevens began the Pālamanui Campus Preserve project. He found native wiliwili trees while researching ancient trails on the site, and got the idea of student stewardship.

"Hawaiian lowland dry forests, it’s the most endangered ecosystem in Hawaiʻi. And around the world, the lowland tropical dry forest is one of the most endangered ecosystems worldwide," Stevens said. "So to be able to preserve a significant part of it here and also to have it as a place where what is lost will be restored, that’s very significant and it’s a great thing for people to get involved in."

Students and community members can take part in preserving and planting wiliwili trees and cleaning archaeological sites. Students can also learn about forest management through lessons on fire protection and invasive species.

"Whenever people come out and plant with us it’s always a very high energy, positive feeling that’s generated from that. And so to think that this will go on now forever is a lovely thing to think about," Dr. Stevens states.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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