This year, Bob Masuda and others organized the first TropHTIRC retreat for the Steering Committee and collaborators. The purpose of the retreat was to spend time together to discuss our progress so far and strategize for the future.
We spent the first day of the retreat on a field trip to Pahala, Keahou, and Kapapala on the Island of Hawaii to see great examples of successful koa plantations, natural forests, and tree breeding for wilt resistance. At Pahala and Keahou, Nick Koch (General Manager, Forest Solutions, Inc.) led a tour of planting sites where Forest Solutions and Kamehameha Schools have been testing silvicultural treatments to optimize koa plantation success. We were all impressed by the rapid growth and health of the young koa trees. We then travelled to the Kapapala Forest Reserve, where Steve Bergfeld, (Forestry Manager, Division of Forestry and Wildlife) showed us the recently-established planting of wilt-resistant koa trees by Nick Dudley (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center). Not only are the trees thriving in a wilt-prone environment, many appear to also have excellent form.
The second day we convened at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. We spent the day becoming better informed about ongoing work and discussing the future of the center. We also devoted a substantial part of the meeting to review the first draft of the State of Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife Koa Action Plan, which will describe important issues and needs for koa forest management and restoration. Distinguished guests included Catherine Chan-Halbrent (Department Head, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management) and Ken Grace (Associate Dean and Associate Director of Research, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources). The field trip and meeting was extremely helpful and we hope it will become an annual event.