MAKAWAO - Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project (MFBRP) is a local conservation organization that is raising funds for forest restoration on Maui.
On June 26, the organization launched a crowd funding campaign called "Plant a Tree! Save the Forest! Save the Birds!" at www.razoo.com/Nakula.
Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project was created in 1997 by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Seeds are collected to plant in the Nakula Natural Area Reserve.
It operates as a part of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit under the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii.
MFBRP's mission is to prevent the extinction of native forest birds through research and implementing and improving management techniques.
For the past several years, the organization has focused its efforts on researching the Kiwikiu, or Maui Parrotbill, a critically endangered species with just 500 left in the wild.
One of MFBRP's research goals is to reintroduce the Kiwikiu to the leeward side of Haleakala, where they were once found. Currently, the birds are only found on windward East Maui in high-elevation rain forests.
A great deal of restoration needs to occur on leeward East Maui before the birds can be released.
With this in mind, MFBRP and the State of Hawaii Natural Area Reserve Commission have begun restoring an area called the Nakula Natural Area Reserve.
A fenced section of 420 acres has already been completed. Ungulates, like cows and pigs, which destroy the understory, have been taken out of this area. More fencing needs to go up, but this is a start.
Within the fenced area, signs of regeneration can already be seen; keiki koa trees have emerged from the soil.
As part of the ongoing restoration efforts, MFBRP seeks to plant nine main understory and canopy plant species. Hundreds of hours have been spent collecting thousands of precious native seeds from this difficult-to-access area.
The Native Nursery LLC of Kula has begun growing these plants to be put in the ground in Nakula. Enough seed was collected to produce 7,600 native tree seedlings, but the project currently only has funding to grow and plant 6,500.
Throughout the month of July, MFBRP is raising money to sponsor the remaining 1,100 trees. Every seedling planted brings the project closer to habitat restoration and native forest bird recovery.
The public can help the project by visiting www.razoo.com/Nakula. Donations here sponsor trees to rebuild the forest for the birds and the watershed.
For more information on MFBRP, visit www.mauiforestbirds.org. Community support is very important in this endeavor.