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Bill to plant 1M trees each year in Hawaii moves to Senate

HONOLULU (AP) — A million trees could be planted in Hawaii each year under a proposed program to increase the number of non-invasive trees in the state.

The state Legislature is considering backing the tree-planting project started by University of Hawaii geography professor Camilo Mora to offset carbon emissions.

The Carbon Neutrality Resources initiative is responsible for planting thousands of trees in Hawaii. The most recent project involved 2,000 volunteers planting 11,000 trees in December, Mora said, adding that he hopes to increase to 100,000 this year and plant a million in 2021.

The bill would place the state Department of Land and Natural Resources in charge of a program to plant a million native trees statewide each year. It was approved by the Senate Tuesday and passed its first reading in the House on Thursday.

Democratic state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz introduced the bill, adding that trees could provide shade, combat invasive species and restore the state’s ecosystem.

“There’s so many reasons why that makes sense, and the more we can plant native trees so that we can perpetuate our own indigenous ecosystems, that help keeps Hawaii unique,” Dela Cruz said.

Mora has worked with the tree-planting project for five years and has cautioned lawmakers that proper planning is crucial to the success of the program. Leaders would need to do their research to be successful, including determining where the trees would grow and what types of species to plant, he said.

Dela Cruz met with former Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who praised his method for being simple, cost-effective and attractive to the public.

“You get in fights over windmills, and you get in arguments about tax relief for solar and electric cars are too expensive, and here all along there’s a proposition that says, ‘No, we can take youth groups, senior groups, volunteers and a little paid staff and we can actually reduce the carbon footprint in the state,’” Abercrombie said.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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