Maui News

USDA awards $42.6 million to 9 Hawaiʻi entities to plant trees, improve green space accessibility

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ʻUlu tree. Courtesy: Hāna Ranch

The US Department of Agriculture has awarded $42.6 million in grants to nine entities in Hawaiʻi to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and improve access to green space in communities statewide.

The largest award of $20 million went to Kupu, a conservation and youth education nonprofit based in Honolulu. 

The grant will fund Kupuʻs program to provide financial and technical assistance toward career
workforce development; integrate UCF practices into all planning scales; cultivate indigenous equity; and mitigate invasive species, pests and diseases. This project will benefit areas populated by disadvantaged native Hawaiian populations.


The grants were announced by the Hawaiʻi Congressional delegation of senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, and representatives Ed Case and Jill Tokuda.

“We need to be doing everything we can to make our communities more resilient to climate change,” Schatz said. “This funding will help expand our urban tree canopy and mitigate the effects of extreme heat – all while providing job training opportunities to those who need it most.” 

The funding is from the Inflation Reduction Act, with the grants being administered by the USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.


Other grant awardees:

  • Smart Trees Pacific: $9 million
  • Grow Good Hawaiʻi: $5 million 
  • Friends of Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden: $2 million 
  • Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry & Wildlife: $2 million 
  • University of Hawaiʻi: $2 million
  • Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests: $1 million
  • City & County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation: $1 million 
  • Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources: $585,500

“This historic investment in urban forests will help ensure people in Hawaiʻi have access to quality outdoor spaces, no matter where they live,” Hirono said.

Tokuda added: “Communities across our state are looking at the extreme drought conditions and rising temperatures in their own backyards and they are scared. This USDA funding is critical as we meet the moment and invest in adaptable green spaces, plant native trees and flora to combat heat and reduce fire risks, combat urban heat islands, mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, and ensure long term climate  resiliency.” 


The Urban and Community Forestry Program is the only program in the federal government dedicated to enhancing and expanding the nation’s urban forest resources. This is the largest single USDA Inflation Reduction Act investment to date in urban and community forests.


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