Maui News

Native Hawaiian organizations to benefit from $12M in new reforestation funding

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A resilient forest restoration project in Hawai’i. PC: American Forests

Privately owned or managed forests comprise 66% of forest cover in Hawai’i, but when it comes to funding for new climate and environmental initiatives, traditionally underserved communities are often overlooked.

In efforts to make reforestation more affordable and accessible for underserved landowners, American Forests has received a $12 million investment from the USDA Forest Service.

With funds awarded through its Forest Landowner Support Program, the investment will support 10 tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations seeking to restore damaged forests, resulting in more than 2 million trees planted and over 1 million metric tons CO2e removed from the atmosphere, announced American Forests.


“This USFS Funding through American Forests will advance the opportunities for Hawai’i underserved landowners to access innovative funding streams related to native forestry, carbon markets and water benefits,” said Dr. Natalie Kurashima, integrated resources manager at Kamehameha Schools. “Access to these emerging markets is critical to accelerate the much needed landscape-level stewardship of our islands’ imperiled and unique forests.”

“This partnership with American Forests will enable us to explore innovative mechanisms to support ecosystem restoration strategies which yield clean and abundant water for people and ecosystems across Hawai’i,” said Dr. Leah Bremer, assistant specialist and conservation scientist University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization. 

American Forests has announced it and partners like the Hawaiʻi carbon hui and the University of Hawaiʻi will provide technical assistance, including project planning, implementation and monitoring, integrating Indigenous knowledge with the best available climate science to help create ecologically-rich forests that can adapt to the stressors of a changing climate, including drought and wildfire. 


These funds are also intended to help underserved forest owners to create new sources of revenue. Landowners who restore damaged forestlands and help create forests with greater resilience to climate change stressors can be compensated by private markets for the ecological benefits of the healthy natural resources they support. The income from private markets for resilient reforestation helps protect healthy forests in the long-term by generating funds that landowners can reinvest in their forests. Those private markets include markets for carbon, clean water and biodiversity. 

The award is one of twenty that will be receiving a total of $116 million from the Forest Service through the Forest Landowner Support Program. Funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, the program is investing $145 million in organizations that support underserved and small-acreage forest owners. 


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