By: Myles Ritchie
It has been just over one full year since the Kailua Citizen Forester program began to teach a group of eager Kailua residents how to become certified Citizen Foresters. The initial two-month long training program saw a wide variety of concepts presented, including tree identification, environmental and monetary benefits of trees, how to gather tree metrics and finally, the ability to input all of this information into a Geographic Information System (GIS) while out in the field. With the assistance of certified arborists and mapping specialists, these concepts were adopted quickly by the Citizen Foresters who set out collecting data for every street and park tree throughout Kailua.
Now, as a result of the weekly dedication of these individuals, every one of these public trees in Kailua (Makai of the canals) have been collected and the information gathered can be accessed by the public in order to see just how beneficial these trees are to the Kailua community. With the completion of the initial Kailua pilot project area, the Citizen Foresters have moved onto nearby areas including Maunawili and Olomana and as of October 2, have mapped and collected data for 3,565 trees!
As a result of the overwhelmingly positive and successful experience of this first ever Citizen Forester program in Hawaii, new locations around Oahu will also begin to have Citizen Forester programs. Due to TOC’s involvement in this collaborative program, the next areas will also take place in locations that have a branch presence albeit with a distinctively urban feel and environment, Waikiki and Manoa. “We are excited to work together with Kaulunani and Smart Trees Pacific to build a coalition of partner organizations in order to raise awareness for trees in Waikiki and in doing so, protect the ones we currently have, while identifying new planting locations which will increase our urban forest”- says Brian Bagnall, President of the Greater Waikiki Outdoor Circle Branch.
Should you wish to view the map of these trees, learn more about the Oahu Citizen Forester program, or become a Citizen Forester yourself, please visit http://www.smarttreespacific.org/projects/citizenforester.
Finally, a big mahalo to the program’s other partners: Kaulunani, Smart Trees Pacific, City and County of Honolulu and the University of Hawaii.
The 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.