7th Annual Wiliwili Festival

Wiliwili Logo RoundThe Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative will be hosting the 7th annual Wiliwili Festival Saturday, February 10th from 9am-3pm at the Waikoloa Stables. The Wiliwili Festival is a fun, free educational event for all ages and a great opportunity to learn more about the unique environment of our island. This year we’ll be offering many opportunities to visit the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve either on a guided hike or on-site workshop.

The Wiliwili Festival brings many local organizations and businesses together to raise awareness about our Hawaiian culture and the island’s native ecosystems and the work that is being done to protect and conserve our island’s resources. There will be free interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities for all ages, informational booths sponsored by non-profit and public agencies, a silent auction, free workshops and a great lecture series featuring talks on urgent invasive species issues, stories of place in South Kohala and updates from partners in conservation from across the island. We’ll also have live music, hula performances, native plants for sale and great food provided by local vendors.

Guided tours of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve will be offered throughout the day at the Wiliwili Festival. Tour participants will have the opportunity to see the beautiful plant species that comprise the dryland forest and learn more about the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative’s forest restoration and community education programs. Tours will be offered every hour, on the hour, between 8am and 2pm. Participants may sign up at the event or in advance for the remaining time slots. Those interested in the early morning tours at 8am and 9am must sign up by email or phone prior to the event. Those planning to attend should wear good shoes or hiking boots and plan for a one hour roundtrip. Transportation from the Waikoloa Stables to the preserve will be provided. Tours are offered free of charge as part of the festival, but donations are encouraged and benefit the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit. For more information on the event or to sign up for a tour please contact us at wdfi@waikoloadryforest.org or (808) 494-2208. See our flyer below!

Wiliwili Poster 8.5x11

We’re Under Construction!

We’re Under Construction!

Anyone who has ever been to the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve knows that in addition to rain, there is another important thing is short supply and that is SHADE! Despite the hot weather and challenging terrain in Waikoloa, we have collected an amazing group of supporters and volunteers that have helped us to achieve incredible results over the past six years. From our regular volunteers and our Future Foresters to first-time visitors, school groups, tourists and business that give back to the ‘aina, we have worked together as a community to reverse the decline of the Waikoloa Dry Forest and bring back many of the native species that were once common in our unique region.

We appreciate our volunteers, in fact, we couldn’t be successful without you! So, we’re excited to announce that we are in the process of building a shade pavilion for all of us to enjoy! With major support from our principal donor, Albert D. Rich, as well as support from the Will J. Reid Foundation and our community of donors, we have begun the construction of our new shade hale and we couldn’t be more excited! This new addition will be a hub for volunteers, student groups and the Future Foresters afterschool program. We are also looking forward to hosting additional workshops, presentations and events in the comfort of our new open air pavilion.


If you would like to contribute to our hale, we would love your help! We are still in need of funding to cover additional construction costs, painting, storage cabinets and a counter top, a handwashing sink, teaching resources such as interpretive signs, field guides and dissecting microscopes for students. This project is going to change the way we are able to educate our community and make visiting the preserve an even better experience. We look forward to sharing it’s completion with you and thank you for your continued support!

We’re Celebrating Five Years!

This year, WDFI embarked on our fifth year of forest conservation, restoration, and environmental education. Creating a forest preserve isn’t an easy task but, thanks to our many hard-working volunteers, generous donors, and enthusiastic supporters, we are celebrating our fifth year in the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve. Mahalo for your continued support of our work and dedication to the conservation of Hawaiian dryland forests and the incredible species that comprise them. Please visit our FIVE YEAR CELEBRATION campaign.


Give Aloha

Give Aloha


The Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative is participating in Give Aloha, Foodland’s Annual Community Matching Gifts Program which can help us fundraise even faster! When you make a donation to WDFI at any Foodland, Sack N Save, or Foodland Farms store Foodland and the Western Union Foundation will match that donation! All you need is a Maika’i Card and you can double your annual donation by making it at the checkout! When you’re shopping in the month of September, please consider making a donation to WDFI, use code #78843. Your donations support our forest restoration efforts and our place-based educational programs. Mahalo for your support!

Enduring Wiliwili Show

Enduring Wiliwili Show

Andrea Pro




“The Enduring Wiliwili” Exhibits at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Artists’ Reception Opens Exhibit on November 13th

On a summer morning two years ago, the Pacific Island Printmakers were introduced to a few of the remaining wild wiliwili trees located in the forest preserve supported by the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.  These trees have endured two hundred years of stress as a result of the voracious appetites of cattle, sheep and goats. What was once a flourishing forest ecosystem populated with an extensive variety of vines, shrubs, trees, birds and insects dwindled to a handful of stately wiliwili standing in the arid and stark landscape. It is estimated that in all of Hawaii only about 1000 wiliwili are left, making it a highly endangered tree. The forest is making a comeback. Thanks to the planting efforts of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative and their volunteers, the wiliwili trees are now surrounded by a variety of young native plants that are growing into a dry forest ecosystem.

In this collaboration with the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, The Pacific Island Printmakers immersed themselves in learning about the biology of the tree, the larger context of dry forest ecosystem and it’s cultural significance. Through the process of sketching, asking questions and gathering impressions, each artist offered their unique expression of the tree through the medium of printmaking. The Pacific Island Printmakers include John McCaskill, Margaret Barnaby, Andrea Pro, Lisa Louise Adams and Kathy Molina.

The public is invited to an artists’ reception on Friday, November 13 from 5 pm to 7 pm in the Coast Grille at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel located at 62-100 Kauna’oa Dr. The exhibit will show through February 12, 2016.  A portion of the proceeds from art sales will benefit the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative. Call John McCaskill at 345-6200 for more information.

Wiliwili Festival 2015

Wiliwili Festival 2015

The 2015 Wiliwili Festival is shaping up to be the best yet. Please join us on Saturday September 12th at Waikoloa Stables from 9am-3pm. We are happy to announce an excellent musical line-up including slack-key guitar artists Sean Robbins and local legend John Keawe. This year we will be featuring many interesting free workshops about native hawaiian plants, cultural perspectives on land and ocean and traditional crafts. Those who arrive early can take home one of more than 100 native plants that we will be giving away. We will also be offering six awesome tours of the forest preserve this year with space for up to 25 guests per tour. Mahalo to all of our sponsors and supporters. Please check out our poster for more information. To sign up for a tour please email wdfi@waikoloadryforest.org


Wiliwili Festival 9.27.14!


The Wiliwili Festival is back! Please join WDFI Saturday September 27th in celebrating our native dryland forest and the wiliwili flowering season. The festival is FREE from 9am-3pm at the Waikoloa Stables in Waikoloa Village. The festival will offer educational workshops, tours, vendors, native plant sales, prizes, keiki activities, silent auction, great music, food and much more! Come and learn how you can help us to Plant Trees in your community forest; arrive early and you could take home a free native plant! We are planning a zero-waste event and hope that you can do your part in keeping our festival footprint small, please carpool, and if you opt to ride your bicycle you will receive a free t-shirt.

Forest Tours:

Forest Preserve tours will be offered every hour, on the hour, from 8am-1pm. Tours will begin at the stables and will be led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides and will showcase the flowering wiliwili trees, our restoration work and our nursery. Tours will last about one hour and participants are encouraged to wear good shoes and to bring a camera! Transportation will be provided by Hawai’i Forest & Trail and a $25 donation per group is encouraged. WDFI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible.

Workshops and Entertainment

10:30am-Cultural Perspectives with Hualalai Keahuloa

11:00am-John Keawe performing

11:30am-Natural History of Waikoloa with Dr. Jonathan Price, UH Hilo

12:00pm-Kahulanui performing

12:00pm-Composting and Bokashi with Sam Robinson and Noah Dodd, Hawaii Recycles

12:30pm-Native Plant Propagation with Jen Lawson and Jessica Middleton, WDFI

1:30pm-Fire Preparedness with Pablo Beimler, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization

To sign up for a tour or a workshop please email jen@waikoloadryforest.org or call (808) 494-2208

Mahalo to our sponsors:

Kaulunalani Urban and Community Forestry Program, Hawaii Water Service Company, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Waikoloa Highlands Chevron, Hawaiian Dream Properties, Goodfellow Brothers, Island Lava Java & First Hawaiian Bank

See our Poster.

First Seeds

First Seeds

0815140730bUhiuhi (Mezoneuron kavaiensis) is a critically endangered endemic tree species that still persists in the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve. It is a legume, has beautiful magenta flowers and makes large light pink seed pods that can be seen from a distance ornamenting the trees in the preserve. The uhiuhi can be put into two categories: kūpuna and keiki, ancients and seedlings. There are no young trees other than those recently planted, and the future of the uhiuhi in our forest has been relying on the seeds of just a few very old trees for many years.  Luckily they are still productive. Each year we collect the seeds of the mature uhiuhi trees, germinate them and nurture them until they are ready to plant out into the forest. One of the main goals of planting uhiuhi trees, and other native plants, within the preserve is to help promote a more self-sustaining forest. By planting we hope to speed up forest recovery and give the trees a head start in competing with weeds and handling the tough conditions in Waikoloa.


Uhiuhi Flowers and Seed Pods

This week we harvested the first seeds from a small uhiuhi tree planted in October of 2012 by one of our dedicated volunteers. The flowers emerged earlier in the year and, although we were hopeful, we were surprised to find that seeds had developed successfully in such a young plant. These seeds are too precious to let fall on the ground where they may be just as likely to be devoured by a rodent as they are to germinate and grow into an adult plant. We will keep them stored until we are ready to germinate and grow them in our nursery and eventually plant them out, as the first uhiuhi from a new parent tree since our work began.