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Planting Tree Islands on Private Ranchland

CIG Projects in PIA | Pacific Islands Area NRCS
 CIG Projects in the Pacific Islands Area:

Planting Tree Islands on Private Ranchland

Grantee: Colorado State University

We propose to plant tree �islands� of koa on three private ranchlands in Hawaii as an innovative demonstration project. We predict that tree islands will result in diverse benefits: 1) new habitat for wildlife, 2) �stepping stones� for wildlife dispersal across ranchland, 3) an established seed source - giving ranchers the option to pursue additional reforestation of this economically valuable species, and 4) benefits to cattle production in the form of wind-blocks, shade and nutrient rich grasses adjacent to the tree islands. To our knowledge, this would be the first time koa tree islands have ever been systematically planted on private ranchlands in Hawaii, despite much evidence that koa holds tremendous ecological, economic and cultural value to Hawaii�s land and people.

The outcome of this project will be twelve self-sustaining tree islands of koa across three private ranches. We will scale up this pilot study by establishing a conservation incentive program that makes establishing tree islands an attractive investment for a broad spectrum of ranchers. Our project will thus inform a much larger scale effort, illustrating ecologically and economically effective means of using tree islands to restore connectivity and habitat for forest birds and other biota across open pastureland in ways that compliment ranching operations.

This project will support recovery efforts for Hawaii�s imperiled forest birds by working with ranchers to establish native tree �islands�. This innovative demonstrative project is designed to create new core habitat for wildlife on open ranchland, to build stepping stones for wildlife across an otherwise inhospitable landscape, and to establish a koa seed bank on each property, thereby helping to preserve the option for ranchers to pursue reforestation of surrounding pasturelands, as well as to provide shade trees and enriched forage for cattle.