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Honolulu halfway to 'green goal' of planting 100,000 trees

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City plan to plant trees

HONOLULU (KITV4) -- The City and County of Honolulu is half way toward its ambitious goal of planting 100,000 more trees.

Four years ago, the city embarked on a plan to plant those trees by 2025.

So far, there have been 51,000 trees planted, but much of the planting has come from people all over the island - instead of the city.

Oahu's green spaces are getting greener. Wide open spaces are the easiest places to grow more trees, and that is what the city has been doing.

"We are focused on canopy trees, which will provide the most shade for streets and parks. For parks, Monkeypods are a great tree," said City Community Forester Emily Perry.

Of the 6,691 trees planted by the city, many are in city parks and open spaces.

But don't expect to also see large canopy trees lining more streets of Oahu.

"Street trees are hard, because of the limited space and they are not used to living in concrete. So it is a challenge to finding ones suitable for urban areas," added Perry.

Street trees tend to be smaller, with much less canopy. Some are put in by city workers, but the vast majority (more than 44,000) have been planted by individual residents or community groups.

"There has been a huge movement of community groups to work with the city and their own restoration efforts to get more trees planted," stated Perry.

One of those groups is changing the landscape at the Moiliili Japanese Cemetery.

"We've been very pleased with people's responses, they say 'We like coming here. It is so beautiful'," said Laura Ruby, a Co-Coordinator for the Moiliili Japanese Cemetery beautification project.

Over the past 10 years, volunteers have added nearly 100 trees around the cemetery.

"We could not plant as much inside, because there were gravesites. So we went around where we could place them. The Ohia trees will eventually provide shade toward the center part of the cemetery," stated Ruby.

Shade is one of the benefits of trees, and can really be felt on a hot summer day in Hawaii.

"It can be anywhere of up to a 10-degrees difference. Trees really make that kind of difference in the heat," said Perry.

"Shade always makes you feel better, it makes it cooler and easier to be here," added Ruby.

Trees also lessen the impact of storm water runoff by soaking up some of that water instead of having it wash over communities.

One of the challenges the city has faced in planting more trees, is the high number of forestry division vacancies.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi did say in his State of the City address on Tuesday, that filling the many city positions would be a key objective of this year.

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