Resource Conservation (reforestation, marine conservation, wildlife rehabilitation)
He ali`i ka `āina, he kauwā ke kanaka.
The land is the chief, man is it’s servant.
Since the beginning of life, humans have depended on the environment, whether it be the land or the sea and the animals that inhabit them, to sustain themselves and their families for generations upon generations. Forests, marine life, agriculture and wildlife are what provide the health and vitality of an ecosystem. In the wā kahiko native Hawaiians, as well as many other native peoples, used plants for many different things such as tools, homes, food, medicines and transportation (such as the canoe). Marine animals were used as a source of food, among many other things. Our watersheds and our native forests sustained our entire livelihood and allowed us to grow and gather from the land and sea. In order to sustain our livelihood as kanaka, we must first mālama the `āina, kai and holoholona that we depend on for sustenance.
Hahai no ka ua i ka ululāʻau.
The rain follows the forest.
Confined within mountain ridges lies the source of all life, wai (water). Enclosed in mountain ridges are the watersheds and aquifers that sustain our forests, streams and kanaka. Multitudes of vegetation attract the rainfall that seeps into the oversaturated aquifers, filling the streams with fresh water. Determining how much recharge an aquifer will acquire depends on the amount of water that is not lost through evapotranspiration, lost in runoff or gathered in soil. The fog drip (cloud vapor that has been caught by vegetation later falls to the forest floor) that fills these aquifers occurs mainly between the altitudes of 2,000 and 6,000 feet, in the atmosphere.
"...that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."
Watersheds play a huge role in the sustenance of all life on a global scale. According to research conducted by the ‘United States Environmental Protection Agency’ there are currently 2,267 within the U.S. continental alone, this includes Hawai`i, Alaska and Puerto Rico. In ancient Hawai`i, the most similar system to a watershed was an ahupua`a. An ahupua`a is a land division that stretches from the top of the mountain to the depths of the ocean. Within the ahupua`a was a lively, sustained community who lived off of the land. Water that comes from the top of the mountains flows down to the land and is used by the people inhabiting the ahupua`a to sustain their food sources, mainly lo`i kalo. A healthy watershed will generally contain the following things: emergent trees, canopy trees, sub-canopy trees and shrubs, understory and groundcover (Board of Water Supply). An emergent tree is classified as trees whose branches emerge out of the forest and are the first to catch rainfall and are in some cases, responsible for the occurrence of fog drip. In recent years, many of our water sources and watersheds and native forests are being disturbed due to development and/or sudden and drastic changes in climate and weather patterns and natural disasters such as forest fires. The loss of our native forests means the loss of the watersheds that sustain us. Organizations such as the Kohala Watershed Partnership are working towards complete restoration of native rainforest on the Kohala Mountain, although they also help to malama other areas when help is needed. This partnership also helps to manage the sediment waste that flows down the streams and into the oceans by keeping the streams clean on unwanted debris. This partnership, as well as many other conservation organizations, also assist in the rehabilitation and release of our native forest birds such as the palila bird, who lives in the Mauna Kea watershed area in a rapidly diminishing mamane forest. The Kohala…