WAILUA — Smart Trees Pacific’s President Wai Lee flew in with Morgan Luogo on Sunday to lead the in-field Citizen Forester training at the Lydgate Park forest of ironwood trees near the Kamalani Playground.
About a dozen Citizen Foresters have been learning about trees, including Tree Ambassadors, Tree Assessments, and Tree Identification through the Zoom platform that started Oct. 4.
Sunday, the information took on new meaning as the Citizen Foresters were given an opportunity to use the information in real life under the guidance of Luogo and Lee, who broke the group into more intimate groups for better inter-personal interaction.
“One of the many special things about the Citizen Forester Program is that it is a collaboration between the USDA Forest Service, the State of Hawai‘i through the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Kaulunani, the County of Kaua‘i, nonprofits, including Smart Trees Pacific, and the community,” said Sari Pastore, the Kaua‘i Citizen Forester Volunteer Coordinator, and Project Consultant for Smart Trees Pacific.
The in-field training was a test with the rewards being the earning of Citizen Forester credentials including a Citizen Forester shirt to wear on future meet-ups and certification for training completion. Other gear, such as the pin-on badge, were part of the instrumentation used during the in-field training that included not only species identification, but assessments on tree health, site conditions, including measurements, and the creation of data that would be meaningful to the program, its users, and partner organizations.
Pastore said individuals or groups wishing to become Citizen Foresters can still register after learning more about the program online at www.SmartTreesPacific.org/CitizenForesters, or email email@example.com.
There will be future training scheduled for February 2022, Pastore said.
The Citizen Forester Program honors the reciprocal relationship between nature and humanity, empowering community members to become forestry leaders through the foundational training series that educates, trains, certifies, and supports community members as volunteer citizen scientists to map urban trees and add to the community’s tree inventory while raising awareness on the importance of caring for trees where we live.
“Our community’s strong connection to place will help us in our work as tree ambassadors and speak and act on behalf of a healthy, functioning, and resilient urban forest with both native and culturally appropriate tree species,” a Smart Trees syllabus states. “Our urban tree inventory directly aids in county planning, environmental impact, and public health assessments. It is also increasing community awareness of the environmental, economic, social, and educational benefits of trees.”
Pastore said eventually she would like to see groups of Citizen Foresters in all areas of the island because place-based kuleana teams are able to oversee the areas they know best, home.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.