Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail Restoration
Mālama Kuli`ou`ou and protect this precious trail by volunteering or donating. Mahalo nui!
About the Project
One of the most beautiful hiking trails in east O`ahu, the Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is in desperate need of restoration. Kuli`ou`ou Valley is a beautiful watershed that once boasted of native trees, shrubs, plants, birds and snails. Today, because of overuse and misuse, switchbacks have been deeply cut, killing trees and plants, and causing erosion that kills coral and damages the natural ecosystems in Maunalua Bay.
Aloha Tree Alliance is working to change this by bringing together East O`ahu community members, schools, tourists, and hiking groups across the island to plant native trees, restore the forest and trailhead to its native ecosystem, reduce soil erosion, increase forest diversity and build resilience in the face of global climate change
What We Are Doing
Impact by the Numbers
Planted native trees, grasses and shrub
Engaged youth in field trips, classroom visits and educational activities
Become an ATA Forest Steward by volunteering at the Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail!
Check out our different volunteer programs below.
Community Tree Planting
Education Volunteer Docent
***Every volunteer must complete the following waivers to participate
Please note that ATA policy is that every minor (unaccompanied and accompanied) must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver prior to their arrival. Any volunteer participant that does not have a signed waiver may be asked to leave the event.
This project was made possible by the support of the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and State and Private Forestry, branch of the U.S. Forest Service, Region 5. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
A`ohe hua o ka mai`a i ka lā ho’okaāhi
When a task is done together, no task is too big.
Adopt-a-Kipuka is a community-driven program that enables business and volunteer groups opportunities to malama ‘aina and steward selected portions of the Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail for one year. By adopting a site, volunteers help care for, and ensure the survival of hundreds of native trees and plants, prevent further erosion and forest degradation, and offer sustainable solutions that improve Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources. Volunteers also help create a positive experience for other hikers and hopefully inspire them to also care for the beautiful Kuli`ou`o`u watershed.
Because Adopt-a-Kipuka volunteers determine when they make their site visits based on their schedules, this is a flexible volunteer opportunity.
Kuli‘ou‘ou Valley is rich in cultural history and houses an array of diverse natural resources. The Kuli`ou`ou trail is one of the most popular hiking destinations on O‘ahu due to its recreational value and beauty. The trail is an important watershed for East honolulu and impacts the health of Maunalua Bay. However, because of its appeal and subsequent overuse, the trail suffers from forest degradation from land use change, invasive species, erosion from hikers cutting trails, heavy foot traffic, and lack of state funding to properly maintain the trail.
A kipuka is an “island” or area of land that is surrounded by lava flows. In terms of ecosystem restoration, a kipuka refers to an “island” of restoration. In these small areas of the forest, invasive vegetation are cleared and replaced with native trees, grasses and shrubs. Over time, the kipukas will connect to form a corridor of native vegetation, providing habitat for important native species and creating a more resilient ecosystem for the future.
Since October 2021, Aloha Tree Alliance has hosted monthly volunteer workdays to restore the trail and forest ecosystem by creating kipukas, planting trees and remediating the many shortcuts on the trail.
Volunteers are integral to the care and maintenance of our restoration sites to ensure long-term sustainability of the trail and its precious forest ecosystem. We invite you to join us, meet terrific people and, if you haven’t been introduced to Kuli`ou`ou, let us introduce you. Tree bathing, giving back to the earth and refreshments will start your weekend in a positive and uplifting way. Sign up to volunteer here.
Ridge-to-Reef Summer Internship Program
In 2021 and 2022, five teams of KUPU Youth Conservation Corps interns and staff participated in diverse hands-on, place-based mentorship opportunities through ATA’s annual Ridge-to-Reef eco summer program.
The young adults’ experiences took them 1,800 feet above sea level to the Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail summit, down to the shores of Maunalua Bay. In between on the forest trail, the enthusiastic environmental stewards cleared restoration sites, remediated trail shortcuts to curb erosion, planted close to native trees and shrubs, and built natural barriers. The activities wrapped around five days of watershed management themes, including wai, kipuka, ahupua`a, biocontrol, and sustainability. A visit to the Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center brought to life the concept of ahupua`a (ancient Hawaiian land division) and the interconnectedness of taking care of the lands, from
mauka to makai. Executive Director Chris Cramer shared mo‘olelo about the Kuli’ou’ou ahupua`a and its history, and the need to protect water resources that flow from the mountains downstream to the people, plants, and animals that depend on them.
Mahalo to veteran Earth Stewards, Chris Cramer, and guest speakers Sierra Club veteran Randy Ching, and Lyon Arboretum scientist Tim Kroessig for their time and wisdom shared with KUPU. Tim captivated his listeners’ interest with a guava biocontrol demonstration. After having cleared stands of invasive guava from kipuka sites all week, the interns learned the importance of having a multi-pronged approach to eradicate guava trees which remain a threat to Hawaii’s native forests.
“Of all the organizations I’ve worked with, ATA taught me the most about the research and methods behind environmental restoration techniques, and gave me the most insight into my future in environmental science,” said KUPU member Cali Mavri. “I got to apply my knowledge in memorable and rewarding ways. Best of all, I feel hopeful and energized about my future.”
“If you plan for one year, plant kalo. If you plan for ten years plant koa. If you plan for one hundred years, teach the children.” –
Aloha Tree Alliance aims to bring youth out of the classroom and into the forest to learn the ancient Hawaiian value of malama ‘aina, or caring for and honoring the land.
As educating the next generation of forest stewards is a large part of ATA’s mission, members of the ATA core team work hard to plan meaningful experiences for the students, including teaching them about proper planting methods, restoration tactics, native plant identification, native plant propagation, and important trail restoration skills necessary to protect Kuli`ou`ou Valley, from ridge to reef.
Interested in planning an educational excursion with your class? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Since 2021, Aloha Tree Alliance has partnered with 14 school and education groups, including Hanahauoli, SEEQS, Punahou, Hawaii Technology Academy, Radford High School, Chaminade Sustainability Club, Trees to Sea camp, KUPU Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, Iolani, Boy Scouts, BioJam Teens, and Mo’o School.
Aloha Tree Alliance is grateful to its partners Mālama Maunalua, Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center, Lyon’s Arboretum, and ATA team volunteers for enriching ATA’s educational program’s with mo‘olelo (stories), science experiments and art projects, and lastly sharing their invaluable mana‘o with Hawaii’s youth.
Special thanks to The Coconut Traveler for sponsoring ATA’s educational site visits in 2023. We look forward to our continued partnerships with these wonderful community allies in the future!