Evan Matszuyama, student, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Tree Planting Helps Preserve Culture

portrait-Evan-Matszuyama[1]When Evan Matszuyama was 8, he would accompany his mother to classes at the University of Hawaii. There he came to know Dr. Richard Stevens who spent years bringing Hawaiian communities together to plant native trees throughout the islands.

Dr. Stevens’ influence was so great that Evan is now working to become a university professor and follow in the footsteps of his mentor. He has also gained an understanding of the significance of natural habitats in cultural traditions and the need to preserve or restore native vegetation.

figure2-Evan-Matszuyama[1]“Aside from physically giving back to my community by planting, I’ve gained an understanding of the value of diverse indigenous species that are fragile and need to be preserved,” says Evan. Through the work of Dr. Stevens more than 10,000 trees have been planted by students, veterans and citizens around veterans’ memorials, in communities, and in rural landscapes.

figure1-Evan-Matszuyama[1]Most of these projects would not have been possible without funding and technical assistance provided by Hawaii’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. As Evan continues his education, Dr. Stevens’ good influence lives on and bodes well for the future. Through the connection of teaching and tree planting, indigenous trees are being restored and preservation of Hawaiian culture is helping to enrich the land and its people.

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

It’s Arbor Day in Hawaii

Today is Arbor Day in Hawaii. The Aloha State celebrates the tree-planting holiday later than all other states, with the exception of South Carolina.

According to Arbor Day Hawaii, the celebration first arrived in the then-territory of Hawaii in 1905, with the governor recommending that all public schools devote part of the school day to planting trees and scrubs.

The website is a terrific resource, with information on planting the right tree in the right place, caring for existing trees and recipes using locally grown fruits and nuts.

There is also a section for locating Arbor Day events through Hawaii.

The state tree for Hawaii is the Candlenut, or Kikui, pictured at right.

The State of Hawaii is currently home to four Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in Hawaii is Honolulu, population 905,000; the smallest is Schofield Barracks, population 14,428.