(BIVN) – Kamehameha Schools on Thursday announced it has entered into innovative agreements “aimed at developing new financial and ecological models to support its stewardship” of thousands of acres of koa and ‘iliahi (sandalwood) forests in West Hawaiʻi.
In separate agreements, Kamehameha Schools is working with Paniolo Tonewoods, LLC to manage koa forest mauka of Hōnaunau Forest Reserve, and Hāloa ‘Āina to restore remnant ʻiliahi/māmane forest adjacent to the Lupea Conservation Area.
“Sustaining a steady source of capital to finance stewardship activities is often challenging,” said Kamakani Dancil, KS land asset manager. “These projects are exploring new management strategies which provide the resources and stable funding needed to achieve native ecosystem restoration goals.”
According to Kamehameha Schools:
Paniolo Tonewoods, LLC, (PT) a collaboration of Taylor Guitars and Pacific Rim Tonewoods, to manage 1,300 acres ma uka of the Hōnaunau Forest Reserve. The pilot project, based on the exchange of goods for services known as “stewardship contracting,” is designed to demonstrate the concept of conservation offsetting costs of stewardship. Under the license terms, PT’s partner, Forest Solutions, Inc., is providing restoration services in exchange for a fixed number of selected koa trees to be harvested under KS-determined standards. The value of the harvested timber removed by PT as part of the restoration/ stewardship project will offset the costs of the conservation services. The final product of the processed koa wood is high-quality guitars.
“Paniolo Tonewoods is committed to restoring native forests throughout Hawai‘i. We’re honored to be working with KS, and to be learning from its long experience with koa. We’re proud to be part of a project that strikes a healthy balance between economics, culture, and ecology,” said Steve McMinn, founder of Pacific Rim Tonewoods, one of the partners in the Paniolo Tonewoods collaboration.
Hāloa ‘Āina, a forestry and education organization and Native Hawaiian family-owned business, is dedicated to restoring the native dryland forest. Under a five-year license, the project will improve the native ecosystem on formerly degraded agricultural lands consisting of remnant ʻiliahi/māmane forest adjacent to the Lupea Conservation Area. Revenues generated from the harvest of the dead and senescent sandalwood trees are directly reinvested in the subject property with the focus of conservation management. Hāloa ‘Āina will market products made from the sandalwood material (oil, dust, etc.) and allocate a percentage of gross sales to KS.
“Hāloa ‘Āina means ‘long breath of the land.’ If people take care of the ‘Āina, the ‘Āina will take care of our People.” said Wade Lee, Managing Member of Hāloa ‘Āina.
“Stewarding ‘āina to be healthy and functioning provides the foundation of a strong Native Hawaiian identity that instills confidence and resiliency in our learners and our people,” West Hawai‘i Regional Director Kaimana Barcarse said. “Ma ka lumi papa e hoʻolauna ʻia ai ka haʻawina, ma ka ʻāina e paʻa ia haʻawina, he ʻike. In the classroom, lessons are introduced. On the ʻāina, those lessons become knowledge.”
Kamehameha Schools said:
Reinvestment of revenue into the forest from these projects will support conservation efforts such as the installation of fencing to protect old growth forests while controlling invasive species and creating firebreaks to prevent wild fires from destroying native plants and endangered species.
The agreements are designed to improve degraded former pasture lands and reverse the decline through selective harvest and reinvestment of resources to improve forest regeneration. Along with planting native species and controlling weeds, these actions will help to enhance habitat for native plant and bird species.