What’s New At The Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest

Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest Receives Public & Private Funding Exhibit Reconnects Urban Visitors with the Hawaiian Forest

The Hawai’i Forest Institute (HFI) recently received grants from the City & County of Honolulu Department of Community Services and DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife and US Forest Service Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program for the Polynesian-introduced Zone of the Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest. Other project funders are Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, Cooke Foundation, Atherton Family Foundation, Hawai’i Forest Industry Association, and the Pettus Foundation.

An innovative landscape design plan was created by renowned landscape designer and author Leland Miyano and Honolulu landscape firm PBR HAWAII.  The exhibit is designed to reconnect visitors with the Hawaiian forest through three demonstration zones: Strand vegetation, Dryland mesic forest species, and Polynesian-introduced species and cultivars.

Each zone is designed with a tapestry of plants and meandering pathways to visually separate plantings and feature species of particular interest. Trees being planted in the Polynesian-introduced Zone include ‘Ulu (Artocarpus Altilis), Kukui (Aleurites Moluccana), Kou (Cordia subcordata), ‘ōhi’a (Metrosideros Polymorpha), ‘Ohe (Schizostachyum Glaucifolium), Wauke (Broussonetia Papyrifera), Noni (Morinda Citrifolia), ‘ōhia ‘Ai (Eugenia Malaccensis), Ko (Saccharum Officinarum), Koai’a (Acacia Koaia), and Mamaki (Pipturus Albidus), as well as Ti Plant (Cordyline Pruticosa) and a variety of other shrubs and groundcovers. This Zone also features a crushed aggregate pathway, moss rock boulders, and a 50 foot partial lo’i moss rock wall.

The Discovery Forest is located near the Honolulu Zoo entrance, adjacent to the future site of a Native Hawaiian Village.  The exhibit features a replication of natural ecosystems, demonstrating culturally significant plant and tree species that once grew near O’ahu’s traditional shoreline villages.  Cultural significance is being demonstrated by honoring importance of place and embedding traditional Hawaiian forest ecosystems, forest stewardship opportunities, and innovative land-based education.

The Children’s Discovery Forest has engaging over 100 volunteers in a variety of activities including outplanting seedlings and pulling weeds, while learning about cultural, natural, and historical attributes of Hawaii’s coastal flora and geology. HFI is collaborating with its early childhood advisory committee, local educators, and community organizations to further develop environmental curriculum and activities linked to the Children’s Discovery Forest. Learn more.

About the Hawai’i Forest Institute (HFI):

HFI is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization formed by the Hawai’i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) in 2003. HFI’s mission is to promote the health and productivity of Hawai’i’s forests through forest restoration, education, information dissemination, and support for scientific research. In addition to the Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest, other HFIA and HFI projects include the Hawai’i Island Native Hawaiian Seed Bank Cooperative, Pana’ewa Zoo and Keauhou Bird Conservation Center Discovery Forests, Mahalo ‘āina: Give Back to the Forest Campaign, and restoration and education at several native dryland forests on Hawai’i Island.

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