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Posted on Apr 28, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU – Windward Community College (WCC) and Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC) have officially become nationally recognized Tree Campus schools for their commitment to effective urban forest management. Windward Community College became the first higher education institution in Hawaiʻi to gain this achievement in 11 years in 2019.

“Windward Community College is a beautiful campus and wonderful place to work in part because of the foresight and planning of people who planted our historic Banyan trees almost a hundred years ago,” said Christian Palmer, Assistant Professor at WCC and WCC coordinator of the Tree Campus initiative. “As a Tree Campus school we are committing to plant and care for our trees for future generations. With the current climate crisis, planting and caring for trees becomes a way to take responsibility for the future, educate our community, and restore Hawaiian ecosystems.”

KCC followed closely behind, receiving recognition as a Tree Campus in 2020.

“Trees at Kapiʻolani Community College are more than just a respite from heat. They help our communities become more resilient to natural or man-made disasters, they provide shelter for the indigenous manu-o-Kū birds, and many of them have special cultural significance as well.” Said Mike Ross, Assistant Professor at KCC and KCC coordinator of the Tree Campus initiative. “The Tree Campus recognition is a high honor befitting for a campus named after a queen.”

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa became the state’s first Tree Campus in 2008 and has impressively maintained the status every year since, creating an incredible legacy for the new inaugural campuses to follow. Tree Campuses across the United States planted 39,178 trees, engaged 81,535 students in tree focused service-learning projects, and invested over $55 million dollars in tree care and management in 2019. Oʻahu’s campuses hope to continue to add to these impressive numbers.

The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. The Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters officially recognized all three Oʻahu campuses after they were able to show that they meet the program’s five standards: (1) maintain a tree advisory committee, (2) implement a campus tree-care plan, (3) maintain dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, (4) host an Arbor Day observance, and (5) complete an annual student service-learning project focused on trees. There are over 400 campuses across the United States with this recognition. As of 2021, three campuses represent the state of Hawaiʻi.

The Department of Land and Natural Resrouces, Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program was proud to welcome the two community colleges into the prestigious program with hope that their success will inspire other campuses across the state to reach the same standards in future years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Hawaiʻi hosts 22 accredited institutions. This means there are plenty of opportunities to expand the program and showcase the importance of trees.

“Tree Campus schools set the bar for educational institutions across the country. The students, staff, and community members that keep this program running set examples for every school in our state,” said Shannon Noelle Rivera, Hawaiʻi’s Tree Campus Coordinator with Kaulunani. “These campuses are showing that trees should be prioritized, and their dedication is making our community a healthier place to live.”

Tree Campus USA applications are due on December 31st of each year. Interested schools and communities can learn more at


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