Welcome to New Chamber Member Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary
What is the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary?
The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary is our multi-generation ohana passion project where we have been providing botanical tours, workshops, experiential learning opportunities, and special events since 1982. The Sanctuary is located on the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, on the slopes of Mt. Hualalai, in a region locally known as Kaloko mauka. The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary is nestled within the larger Kona Cloud Forest which extends approximately 50 miles long between 2,500 ft and 5,000 ft above sea level. We are only fifteen minutes from the Kona-Keahole Airport, which makes the Sanctuary the most conveniently accessible cloud forest in Hawaiʻi!
The Reforestation Effort & How It All Began
Norman Bezona (Grandpa), former professor of tropical agriculture and forestry at University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, brought the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary to life in 1982 by purchasing the first 20 acres of what has become a 70 acre forest sanctuary. At that time, 15 acres of this sacred forest was deforested pasture land due to cattle ranching. Like an artist with a blank canvas, this was a dream come true for Norman, as he was able to reforest this damaged plot of land into a multidimensional lush jungle by integrating his love for tropical forests and his global wisdom of these ecosystems.
Norman worked closely with his colleagues at University of Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the International Palm Society, and the American Bamboo Society, among many others, to strategically plan this restoration effort. The result is a forest like no other, with magnificent exotic trees and plants, including over 200 different palm species, over 150 bamboo species, giant tree ferns, conifers, and cycads. Hundreds of native species were also planted during the reforestation, and the larger trees shaded out the grass which enabled the native species to propagate naturally again. Besides the reforested 15 acres, the other 55 acres of the Sanctuary is preserved old growth native forest, supported by our partnership with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.
Our Values, Vision and Mission
Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary
Reverence for the cloud forest is an essential element of the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary mission and vision. We believe that by connecting residents, students, and visitors to this healthy forest, we can inspire and strengthen appreciation and respect for forests around the world.
The Kona Cloud Forest is vital to the native species, and also to the residents and tourists that visit or live in West Hawaiʻi. At 3,000 feet elevation above the Kona coast, this cloud forest receives about 100 inches of rain each year, and where the forest has been removed, roughly 40% of the precipitation is lost. The Kona Cloud Forest supplies fresh clean water to residents, agriculture, golf courses, and hotels below.
Some notable endemic plants that reside here include the ʻōhiʻa and koa trees, and giant prehistoric hāpuʻu tree ferns. Some native wildlife include the ʻio (Hawaiian Hawk), pueo (Hawaiian Short-eared Owl), and several Hawaiian Honey Creepers.
We also explore how this thriving ecosystem ignites healing by providing mindfulness experiences in the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. These experiences include meditations, sound baths, and other workshops and retreats. The purpose behind these mindfulness offerings is to provide an opportunity to reconnect to the self and reconnect to the Earth of which we are part.
The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary serves as an example of how we as humans can make a positive lasting impact in a short period of time. But, don’t take our word for it, come see for yourself!
- Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary Tour
- Sound Bath Meditation Journey
- Forest Immerson Guided Meditation
What is a Tropical Cloud Forest?
Many visitors ask what the difference is between tropical rain forests and tropical cloud forests. A tropical rain forest receives most of its precipitation from rain. Cloud forests however, receive as much as 40% of their precipitation from moisture that condenses on the leaves of trees from the mist and clouds that move through these high elevation forest.
As large amounts of water are deposited directly onto vegetation from clouds and light mist; the highest elevations of the forest are almost always dripping water from the leaves. This constant supply of above-ground water makes a cloud forest excellent habitat for epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants).
To a visitor accustomed to drier temperate forests, the abundance of epiphytes is the most striking difference. Tree trunks are almost always covered with mosses, bromeliads, ferns, and other plants.
Tropical cloud forests occur on high mountains in the tropics, in Hawaii most commonly between 3,000 and 4,000 feet elevation, and experience very different environmental conditions. The high moisture level and cool year-round temperatures foster unique plant communities.
Major areas in the world where tropical cloud forests are found include Central America and all countries in tropical South America. On the other side of the globe, tropical cloud forests are found in SE Asia, New Guinea, tropical Africa, Madagascar, and some islands in the South Pacific.