The Carbon Neutrality Challenge (CNC) is an innovative program that combines environmental education with the opportunity to become carbon neutral for the year through the planting of native trees. The program, which is a collaboration with the Mora Lab of the University of Hawaii’s Department of Geography and Environment, began in 2015 and has now seen hundreds of participants take the challenge to become carbon neutral.
In 2018, the project expanded from the initial planting site at Camp Palehua to also include reforestation activities at Ala Mahamoe, which allowed additional partners to contribute to the program such as Ko`olau Mountains Watershed Partnership (KMWP), Garden Club of Honolulu and Sierra Club. Through this collaborative partnership, the CNC was able to host a 1,000-tree planting event on November 17th, 2018 which saw over 230 volunteers of all ages plant 18 species of natives, amounting to over 1,100 plants in an area that was once completely covered by a dense grove of Haole Koa. The event was extremely successful and received an outstanding amount of media coverage, highlighting the goals of the program and why it is necessary for Hawaii to continue planting programs of this nature.
December 7, 2019 saw the most recent event completed which resulted in the planting of 7,000 native trees at Gunstock Ranch on Oahu and allowed any interested members of the community the opportunity to not only learn about the many benefits that trees provide, but to also plant trees that can begin to offset their carbon footprint for the year. In 2020 there will be a follow-up event where even more trees will be planted around Oahu.
As the event approaches, if you or anyone you know is interested in assisting with this program, please be sure to follow all updates on the Outdoor Circle’s Facebook page, or contact TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie (email@example.com), for more information.
Over the past year, TOC’s Exceptional Tree (ET) Initiative has continued to grow in popularity and as a result of this, has been featured by numerous media outlets including articles in Atlas Obscura, Honolulu Magazine and Civil Beat. These articles cover the history of Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree program, TOC’s role in helping to establish the program and the successes that have been accomplished thus far, while also highlighting future needs of the program. As TOC’s Exceptional Tree Map was one of the main features of the articles, this online, interactive resource received aesthetic and content upgrades that corresponded with the release of these articles.
In addition, due to TOC’s extensive work on the ET program and Myles Ritchie’s graduate research on a global standardized framework for such programs, TOC has proven to be an invaluable resource to various locations around the world that wish to begin or improve their own Exceptional Tree programs. This dissemination of knowledge has allowed TOC to help improve Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree program and the trees it protects, while at the same time, acting as a world leader on this topic, helping to ensure that some of the world’s most magnificent tree specimens are also preserved.
Myles has also been appointed as Vice Chair of the Honolulu County Arborist Advisory Committee and recently helped facilitate a major addition of the entire grove of trees on Kapiolani Boulevard to become exceptionalized, with this effort spearheaded and championed by Dr Brian Bagnall, President of the Greater Waikiki Outdoor Circle.
Finally, we are thrilled to announce that the Hawaii County Arborist Advisory Committee (AAC) was recently reformed and will now begin reviewing ET nominations for the Big Island. This follows a ten-year hiatus which saw no new ETs added for the county, however, with the current group of devoted individuals on the AAC, including Jonathan Sudler of TOC’s East Hawaii branch, TOC is looking forward to seeing many new Exceptional Trees added across the island.
This past February and March was the third consecutive year that TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, was asked to teach a portion of the NREM 301 lab course at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) in the Natural Resources Environmental Management (NREM) department. This is an annual partnership with the university that involves junior and senior students studying concepts in the environmental/conservation field through multiple classes that are over five hours in duration.
The class itself focuses on the environmental, ecological, cultural, psychological and monetary benefits that trees provide and how each can be quantified through the use of data collection around the UHM campus and software such as the National Tree Benefit Calculator and i-Tree, which were created by the US Forest Service.
Due to Myles' experience collecting data for TOC’s Exceptional Tree map and also helping to initiate Hawaii’s first Citizen Forester program, these same skills are conveyed to the students so that they can gather metrics such as: height, diameter, crown spread, aesthetic value, cultural value, etc., in addition to obtaining the GPS coordinates of each tree.
All of this data is then inputted into the UH Manoa Plant Map so that the campus’ trees have baseline data to refer to and helps to improve this interactive resource that highlights the UHM campus has been awarded status as an accredited arboretum for its collection showcasing plants from Hawai‘i, the Pacific, and across the tropics, including a number of truly exceptional trees, such as the largest Baobab in the United States.
With the overwhelmingly positive feedback provided by the students and professors each year this class has been taught, TOC is looking forward to once again teaching this lab during the Spring 2020 semester. In doing so, this will help teach the next generation of environmental stewards about the many benefits that trees provide, how to quantify these aspects and then convey them to the public in an informative and meaningful way.
The Outdoor Circle’s founders and members over the last 107 years made a commitment to beautify and green our islands for future generations providing the large shade trees and visual-blight free environment we enjoy today in our island home.
We invite you to place The Outdoor Circle in your planned giving in whatever form is appropriate for you, knowing that your gifts will continue to live on in perpetuity and bless these islands with beauty for generations to come.
You do not need to be wealthy to leave a legacy gift. Make your core values known by making a planned gift to The Outdoor Circle where your forward-thinking will continue to support our long-term success for an organization whose work you value.
In addition to supporting our work through your generous cash donations, here are other ways you can contribute to the sustainability of The Outdoor Circle in the long term. We encourage you to consult with your financial advisor to discuss making a gift or bequest to The Outdoor Circle.
Some of the ways to donate to The Outdoor Circle for both the present and future include:
One of the easiest ways to help involves simply naming The Outdoor Circle as a beneficiary in your will and living trust. A bequest may be for a particular dollar amount or percentage of your estate.
Life Insurance Policy and Retirement Assets
Often overlooked by donors, naming The Outdoor Circle as a partial or full beneficiary of these assets can provide support for the organization to further its mission.
Life Income and Complex Gifts
Life income gifts allow you to leave a gift in the care of The Outdoor Circle, while receiving income during your lifetime. The two most popular life income gifts are charitable remainder trusts and charitable gift annuities. If you are a business owner, own real property or have any other type of complex asset, giving options exist that can both help The Outdoor Circle and benefit your family financially. Please contact us or your financial advisor for more information. We work with the Hawaii Community Foundation as needed to realize these gifts.
If you are age 70 1/2 or older, you may instruct your IRA custodian to transfer any amount up to $100,000 directly to the Outdoor Circle. While this distribution to the Outdoor Circle would not be included in your taxable income, nor produce a tax deduction, it could fulfill some or all of your 2019 required minimum distribution while supporting our mission. This is one of the easiest and best ways to include The Outdoor Circle in your gifts.
Mahalo for including The Outdoor Circle in your current and planned giving to uphold a legacy organization that has kept a vision of beauty in our island home for over a century.
Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.