People, plants and restoration

  • Courtesy University of Hawaii

    This photo shows the watershed, or ahupua’a, that holds Limahuli Garden and Preserve on Kauai’s North Shore.

HAENA — Biorestoration.

It’s a way to restore ecosystems that focuses as much on the cultural history of a place as it does on ecology.

It’s a concept integral to restoration projects across Kauai, including the management of the Waipa ahupua‘a with the Waipa Foundation, is present in elements of ongoing upgrades at Haena State Park, and is part of the reforestation project at Kauai’s North Shore Limahuli Garden and Preserve.

This month, a group of Native Hawaiian authors pushed Hawaii into a spotlight in the conversation by publishing conservation papers in a special issue of the journal “Sustainability.”

The collection represents the largest to date of scientific publications authored by Native Hawaiians, and each of the 14 articles — the work of almost 100 authors — had contributions from at least one Native Hawaiian.

Kawika Winter, former director of Limahuli Garden and manager of the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve on Oahu and research associate with the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai’s South Shore, was lead editor on the project.

The issue shows the importance of using traditional and cultural knowledge and perspective in research and management strategies.

“Many of us have spent our lives endeavoring to translate ancestral wisdom for a contemporary global audience. We have found that producing and interpreting scientific data is one of the most effective ways to do this,” Winter said.

He’s worked on many restoration projects, one being the reforestation at Limahuli Garden and Preserve — a project he addressed in a paper released in September.

He collaborated with 10 different authors on that paper, which presented the potential long-term-cost reductions in management through collaboration with community partners.

The research ongoing at Limahuli is aimed at restoring the watershed by integrating that cultural and traditional knowledge and using the people who know the land as resources for management.

The group of authors who contributed to the “Sustainability” issue were an interdisciplinary group of researchers from University of Hawaii and other universities, as well as members of Native Hawaiian communities.

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, an assistant researcher in the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, was a guest editor for the papers, and said the project was a whirlwind, and all submitted papers involved Native Hawaiian and women authors.

“It makes sense that the work of caring for and restoring our mother earth is done by native peoples and women in particular,” said Lincoln. “It wasn’t until the dust settled that we realized this had to be some kind of milestone.”

Authors and editors of the papers say the special issue has worldwide impacts and shows the need for people to be considered an “integral part of nature, and solving environmental problems requires the use of a biocultural approach.”

“Sustainability” is a peer-reviewed, scholarly, open-access and international journal of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability.

Publishing costs were funded, in large part, by the Hawaii Community Foundation.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or

  1. Charlie Chimknee March 1, 2019 2:44 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Fantastic article and Wonderful information, mahalo to all in the article and Jessica who wrote it.

    As the article speaks mostly to the Aina and the importance to sustainability and the old and natural way to achieve, restore, and maintain that…in light of human lack of sustainability, and the fact that chronic degenerative disease is increasing rapidly, and Disease Care itself is not working.

    Human health is not sustainable at this time, proof positive being the statistics of heart and stroke disease, obesity, diabetes, the too many cancers, Alzheimer’s, Autism, and kidney failures, etc.,

    Though we perpetuate by buying into it, a Disease Care System that relies on further disease producing by side effects of the new pills, a pill for every ill, for the most part the pills are made from cancer causing oil or petroleum…and the fact that in the world the USA is ranked #1 in cost of Health Care, and ranked #37 in quality of Health Care…it is clear the “final sheet” is being pulled over our eyes…too soon and too frequently.

    We need a new sustainable actual Health Care System, one that restores, maintains, and perpetuates Health without drugs and surgery. A PROACTIVE approach instead of the reactive non brilliant approach.

    Masking, or hiding symptoms with drugs is not a return to health in fact it lets Disease continue its process internally to the detriment of the person seeking health and only covering up disease.

    Those people on medical drugs are in the majority so you would be a unique individual if you turned your back on drugs…instead turn to the study and practice of health.



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