This Saturday, from 9am-12pm, 1,000 native trees will be given away during Maui’s 15th Annual Arbor day. Hosted by the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, in partnership with Hawaiian Electric Company and Arbor Day Hawai‘i, the event will also feature other happenings for tree-lovers and the environmentally minded, like hands-on Hawaiian cultural activities as well as appearances by conservation organizations.
Maui master gardeners from the University of Hawai‘i Cooperative Extension will be on hand to help attendees find a tree or shrub that grows well where they are hoping to plant it. Tree enthusiasts will also be able to pick the brains of certified arborists, who will answer questions about tree care and management, and give advice.
In addition to the personalized help, many local nonprofit conservation groups will be there, and residents will get a chance to learn how they can be more involved in Maui’s conservation community. Participants will also get an opportunity to make traditional Hawaiian products like toys, tools, and household items from the leaves, fruit, and bark of native trees.
Arbor Day is a worldwide celebration of trees, an official holiday created to promote, honor, and plant trees in this era when we so desperately need them. In Hawai‘i, Arbor Day coincides with the beginning of the rainy season, which makes for a great opportunity to plant and nurture a tree through the wet months ahead. Planting natives, especially, not only spruces up your yard, but it can also help with some of our pressing losses in diversity on an island where biodiversity is one of our biggest assets.
As we are all pretty aware of by now, the environmental situation is dire, as underscored by a new report that we’ve had a horrifying 60 percent decline in the populations of wildlife in just the past 40 years. Humans tend to be really, really bad for other species. Biodiversity isn’t just nice to have, it’s essential to our survival on this planet. It’s hard to know where to start to help this disheartening situation, but small actions do matter. In order to to do something about it at the policy level, we’ve got to care at the personal level. Planting a native tree in your backyard is symbolic as well as an actual way to signify care.
So, go and get yourself a tree. The event will feature a variety of native trees and shrubs fit for all the varied climates of Maui. As plant lovers know, native trees are of special significance, especially in our isolated archipelago which gave rise to unique endemic species. They are also beautiful and interesting plants that will enhance any landscape. The good people who care about these things will be giving out a large variety of native plants, with well known mainstays like wiliwili, hala, ‘ohi‘a lehua, and koa on hand alongside many less common trees and shrubs. Some of the free plants will include endangered species like koki‘o ‘ula‘ula, the beautiful red hibiscus and the nanu, a flowering forest gardenia of the coffee family. First-come, first serve, so get there early.
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens is host to many events throughout the year, including the Ulu Festival and various workshops, like dye and kapa making, in keeping with their mission to promote native plants and cultural heritage. Lucky we have people like this on island; let’s go support them, and plant some trees. All of our futures depend on it.
This event is sponsored by the Kaulunani Program of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the USDA Forest Service; the County of Maui’s Office of Economic Development; and Maui Electric Company.
Arbor Day Tree Giveaway
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens
150 Kanaloa Ave., Kahului
Saturday, Nov. 3. 9am-12pm
Photo courtesy National Park Service