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Ka Pilina Poina ‘Ole “Connections Not Forgotten” 

The “Connection Not Forgotten” project connects four dryland forest sites in West Hawai‘i; Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest, Kalaemanō Cultural Center, La’i’Ōpua Preserve, and Pālamanui Dry Forest Preserve. The project entails providing dryland habitat restoration and a youth educational program, which provides hands-on, learning experiences to effect positive change in the areas of kuleana (responsibility), mālama (stewardship), and interdependency of all living things.

Project coordinators and cultural educators are integrating traditional ecological and cultural knowledge into restoration activities including collecting and dispersing seed, planting seedlings, and weeding. The project also includes a mentorship program for interns to learn about propagation, planting, monitoring, and care of native plants.  Other project supporters are Kamehameha Schools, Palamanui Global Holdings, and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Funding for 2017 and 2018 has been received from Hawai’i Tourism Authority Kūkulu Ola Program, Dorrance Family Foundation, American Forests Global Releaf, Arthur Lawrence Mullaly Fund and Traut Carson Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, Department of Hawaii Home Lands, and Palamanui Global Holdings.

Dryland Mentorship Program

Initiated in 2017, Ethnobiologist Jill Wagner, Future Forests Nursery coordinates the Dryland Mentorship Program at La‘i‘Ōpua and Pālamanui.  The program is creating a pathway for youth who are interested in working in the field of conservation and restoration of Hawaiian ecosystems.  Jill teaches interns to identify native and non-native species as well as in-depth taxonomy for a clear understanding of the origins and functions of a plant in the ecosystem. Currently, three interns are being trained in the field and help take students from Pālamanui College, K-12 students, and other community volunteers to the dryland forest for service learning activities.

Jill has a wealth of knowledge and experience in seed collection and banking, propagation, outplanting, and nurturing native plants and will share her knowledge and expertise with a new generation of biologists and land stewards.

The Blue Zones Project volunteers return to the forest each month to plant seedlings and pull weeds. Learn more about Future Forests Nursery here.


West Hawaii Explorations Academy Public Charter School volunteers at La‘i‘Ōpua.


Project Sponsors
American Forests Global Releaf
Atherton Family Foundation
Arthur Lawrence Mullaly Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation
Bill Healy Foundation
Cooke Foundation
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Dorrance Family Foundation
Friends of Hawaii Charities
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC), the Hawaiian Airlines Foundation, the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance Foundation, and Conservation International established the IUCN WCC Hawai‘i Climate Fund
La’i’Ōpua 2020
Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association
Hawai‘i Forest Institute
Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Kūkulu Ola Program
Kamehameha Schools
Kukio Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation
Traut Carson Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation
U.S. Department of Education’s “Education through Cultural & Historical Organizations”

HFI-Hawaii Business Mag Article 2-2016
Connections Not Forgotten Press Release March 2017
Dorrance Scholars Conservation Program Aina-Based Learning Surveys 7-24-2017
HFI Receives OHA Grant press release 8-7-2017 Hawai‘i Forest Institute Receives $172,262 for Native Dryland Support
Ka Pilina Poina ‘Ole Connections Not Forgotten Field Guide 2018

Aupaka o Wao Lama Partnership

A partnership Aupaka o Wao Lama was formed among Kealakehe Intermediate School; Ke Kama Pono, transitional teen-male program; Kealakehe High School; La‘i‘Opua 2020 Kau I Ka Mālie Cultural Center and Aupaka Ke Kilohana; Hui La‘au Kama‘aina La‘i‘Opua; Ho‘ola Ka Makana‘a Ka‘ūpūlehu (‘Āina Ulu); and Ka‘ūpūlehu Cultural Center at Kalaemanō.  Aupaka o Wao Lama is a “learn while doing” stewardship education partnership, integrating cultural and science ecology in 2013. La‘i‘Opua 2020 contributed $20,000 to this effort.

Cultural Ecology Team educators Keoki Apokolani Carter and Yvonne Yarber Carter developed and coordinated  an intensive collaboration that weaves together the volunteer learning events and curriculum using a combination of cultural knowledge, social and natural science, place-based activities, and curriculum and digital resources. Kalaemanō Cultural Center educator, performing artist, and Hawaiian language teacher Ku‘ulei Keakealani provided a “mo‘olelo wahi pana” (storied place) component that gives a deeper grounding in the oral tradition of place. La‘i‘Opua 2020 Kau I Ka Mālie Cultural Center and Aupaka Ke Kilohana Administrator Christy Schumann provided program support for La‘i‘Opua 2020 and Kealakehe High School teacher Chris Ibarra, Kealakehe Elementary Na Kahumoku coordinator Jeannine Crisafi, and Ke Kama Pono Coordinator Anthony Savvis coordinated their student logistics, grading, attendance, recruitment, and transportation.

The team, including Site Manager Wilds Pihanui Brawner and Restoration Technician Kealaka‘i Knoche worked together with the outreach education team and collaborators to intertwine history of people and place with land restoration “learn while doing” activities to better understand the lands of Kealakehe and the larger mauka-makai lands of  North Kona, Kekaha region of Hualalai mountain. Stewardship events involved intergenerational sharing of knowledge with other groups and learning programs.

To learn more about dryland forest ecosystems, go to Ka’ahahui ‘O Ka Nāhelehele’s website at

Na Kahumoku photos:

Geography Huaka’i to Kalaemanō and Kīholo
Ma Kekaha Wai ‘Ole O Kona
April 16, 2011

More About Ka Pilina Poina ’Ole

Learn more about dryland habitat restoration and youth educational program.
Download the PDF Brochure (3.3 Mb)

To learn more about dryland forest ecosystems, go to Ka’ahahui ‘O Ka Nāhelehele’s website at

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