Recent land use changes have led to opportunities to reforest large areas of degraded land with koa. There is now a large demand for improved koa seeds and seedlings that can grow well in a variety of environmental conditions.
To meet this demand, HTIRC members are working together to establish seed orchards to produce an abundant supply of seeds for native forest reforestation across a range of environmental conditions from high to low elevations. To get the seed orchard project going, TropHTIRC members were awarded a competitive grant from the Forest Service State & Private Forestry program.
This project is a major a team effort! Forest Service scientist, Christian Giardina at the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF) developed the preproposal in close collaboration with Robert Hauf, Sheri Mann and Irene Sprecher from the DLNR Division of Forestry. Then Faith Inman-Narahari from the University of Hawaii, Natural Resources and Environmental Management Department (UH-NREM) and Nick Dudley from the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) took the lead to develop a successful project proposal with input from the stakeholders in the TropHTIRC Steering Committee. The proposal was selected by the state to be forwarded to the national competition where it was highly ranked. Charles Michler, the director of the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center at Purdue University (HTIRC), is providing matching funds to support the project and his tree breeding experience to ensure its success. Mike Robinson from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) is excited about having seed orchards established on DHHL land on the upper slopes of Mauna Kea, where they will supply locally-adapted seeds for high elevation restoration of degraded ranch land. To ensure the best growth and survival of seedlings in the new orchards, we are looking forward to getting the expertise of Nick Koch of Forest Solutions, Inc. for site prep, planting, and management. This project expands the current network of seed orchard and builds on long-term research efforts by HARC, IPIF, UH-NREM, and HTIRC.
These seed orchards represent a huge step forward for tree improvement in Hawaii. We'll post more information as the project develops!