Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative finds community support essential to protect an endangered habitat

Sponsored -The following content is created on behalf of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority and does not reflect the opinions of Gray Media or its editorial staff. To learn more about the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority and its community programs, visit https://www.hawaiitourismauthority.orgwhat-we-do/hta-programs/.

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) is proud to support community organizations across our state in an effort to perpetuate Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources, while honoring its people and heritage.

“Hawaiʻi, the visitor industry, and the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority are all in a time of huliau (transformative change), in which an accelerated shift toward destination management is necessary in order for tourism to properly support the revitalization of our communities and economy in a more meaningful and reciprocal way,” says HTA President and CEO John De Fries.

As part of HTA’s commitment to Mālama Kuʻu Home (care for my beloved home), a number of HTA programs such as the Community Enrichment, Aloha ʻĀina, Kūkulu Ola and Mālama Hawaiʻi programs demonstrate that focus on destination management and empower the community to have a greater voice in tourism’s future.

There is an incredible opportunity for tourism management so both residents and our home can thrive. This is the goal of each county’s Destination Management Action Plan – to rebuild, redefine, and reset tourism for Hawaiʻi’s communities.

After more than a century of decimation due to overgrazing, invasive species, wildfire, and neglect, Hawaiʻi’s dry forest ecosystems are on the brink of extinction. The Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative was formed in 2011 to give the unique geography a different future. Through grassroots advocacy, the organization was able to establish its namesake dry forest preserve just a few miles from Waikoloa’s luxurious resorts. In scorching conditions, staff lead volunteers in efforts to preserve and protect the ancient native trees that once dominated the entire Kona-Kohala Coast. They have made a great deal of progress pushing back invasive grasses and planting seedlings that promise a brighter future. The work doesn’t end there as the initiative’s leaders recognize that sustained success depends just as much or more on involving the community in caring for this disappearing ecosystem - and the biological and cultural diversity that could vanish along with it.

Adopt a wiliwili tree at waikoloadryforest.org/support or learn more at waikoloadryforest.org.