Hawai'i conservation alliance

Culturally-Based Forest Restoration In Hawai‘i—Forest As ‘Ohana

Kawika Winter, Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Ha’ena, Hanalei, HI
Yvonne Yarber Carter, Hui La‘au Kama‘aina , Ho‘ola Ka Makana‘ā, Ka‘upulehu, Kona Akau, HI

Tuesday, August 2, 1-3 PM, Room 312

The foundation for this diverse panel on cultural ecology is the guiding principle of kuleana and the belief, “Take care of the land, and it will take care of you.” This is an approach to restoration that entwines: respect, aloha, diversity, partnerships, cultural legacy, protocols and forest as family.

Cultural ecology does not refer to culture frozen in time.  It is dynamic, inclusive, and recognizes the global family, but is discerning with protocols. It also includes an extended family for sustainability. Funding and grant-driven restoration is unstable in nature and adds to the stress of heavy workloads, tasks that never end, and expectations of immediate returns and measurements of “success”.  Funding may come and go. Kuleana does not. We recognize that reversing the ill-health of native ecosystems and measuring success requires looking at the process within the time frame of our elder trees.

Panel speakers offer diverse intersecting viewpoints and principles that provide a foundation for this sustainable approach. All are involved in cultural legacy, education, science, and restoring ecosystem wellness as a two-way exchange. All have experienced how a strong community and partner-based restoration can provide uplift and continuity, within the reality of funding ups and downs.

Panel Speakers:

  • Kawika Winter, Hō‘ola i ka Wao Nāhele: Culturally-Based forest Restoration
    Limahuli Garden and Preserve is located on Kaua‘i in the ahupua‘a of Hā‘ena. We are a botanical garden and nature preserve built on a foundation of deep cultural history and unique biodiversity in the midst of a traditionally Hawaiian community that is experiencing a major demographic shift. We have developed a management plan for the cultural and ecological restoration of this 1,000 acre valley that recognizes the intrinsic link between the health of the forest and the health of our Hawaiian culture.  Since the 1990’s Limahuli has had a major focus on landscaping with native species in the garden proper, and forest restoration in both Upper and Lower Limahuli Preserve.  In 2010 in an attempt to perpetuate the plant-based traditions of our community, and in one of several efforts to re-engage our community in decentralized natural resource management we initiated a reforestation project aimed at removing invasive species and reforesting with culturally significant native species (this project was supported by a community grant from the Office of Hawaiian affairs).  Being that every native plant in the forest is culturally significant this allowed us to restore a biologically diverse forest that can be the material foundation for the perpetuation and revival of a diverse array of plant-based traditions that include carving, dye-making, lei making, herbal medicine and ceremony. We will discuss the methodologies used in species selection, collection, propagation and out-panting; as well as methodologies for site selection, clearing and community engagement
  • Yvonne Yarber Carter, Outreach Education & Volunteer Coordinator, Ka‘ūpūlehu
    Culturally-based Forest Restoration in Hawai‘i—Forest as ‘ohana. “Aunty Yvonne” believes the hope for the future of our native forests is the guiding principle of kuleana and the saying, “Take care of the land, and it will take care of you.” This approach to restoration entwines: respect, aloha, sharing, diversity, partnerships, cultural legacy, protocols of behavior and forest as family.
  • Keoki Apokolani Carter, Outreach Education & Volunteer Coordinator, Kealakehe
    Cultural ecology needs requires patience and respect. “Uncle Keoki” has grown into a relationship with the forest that embraces and entwines his old style rural Hawaiian upbringing and social values with a formal education as a certified teacher, and advanced degree in Wood Science. Striving first to be true to his cultural worldview and commitment to the land, science learning provides an added lens of understanding. Looking at restoration within the time frame of elder trees, he reminds young stewards to the forest that “good things take time”.
  • Drew Kapp, UH, Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College, Geography & Environmental Studies Dept.
    The extended family—efficacy, and sustainability of stewardship learning opportunities and partnerships with restoration sites that value cultural legacy. Working and learning journeys or huaka‘i  “represents one of the most valuable components of our courses.” Drew Kapp has done much to expand the extended ‘ohana of volunteers at many restoration projects on Hawai‘i island.
  • Wilds Pihanui Brawner—Site manager, DHHL Kealakehe and Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest.
    Cultural ecology as an approach to site management, and why nurturing a culture of volunteers, training interns and youth is vital to restoration efforts. Internship opportunities helped to prepare Wilds for his present work as a dryland forest site manager.
  • Pua Herron-Whitehead, HYCC Americorps intern.
    The importance of learning opportunities in an ‘ohana setting. Perspective of a young steward being trained and employed in a cultural ecology setting, that was made possible by internship funding and programs.

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