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HFIA award for Aina Mauna Legacy Program


The Hawaii Forest Industry Association introduced a new award to the lineup of awards at the 18th Annual Hawaii’s Woodshow this year. The first ever recipient of the “Koa: Standing the Test of Time” award was the Aina Mauna Legacy Program – Hookuleana LLC and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).

A $200 prize and award certificate was presented by Hawaii State Department of Agriculture Chair Sandra Lee Kunimoto at the Woodshow’s opening reception March 26 in Honolulu.

“DHHL is looking at its responsibility as a land manager not just to provide homes to its beneficiaries, but also to provide for the management and protection of native lands for the future,” said Hawaii Forest Industry Association Executive Director Heather Gallo. “Because the Department is looking beyond housing into a more holistic approach for communities and land management specifically by creating a sustainable plan for the Humuula/Piihonua area of the Big Island that incorporates sustainable koa forestry opportunities, we were happy to present the Aina Mauna Legacy Program this award.”

The Humuula/Piihonua area is made up of approximately 56,200-acres owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands located on the northeast slopes of Mauna Kea. The lands represent the most important native forest areas remaining in the DHHL trust. The area serves as valuable habitat to many native and endemic species. After 150 years of sheep and cattle ranching, the formerly dense forest became significantly altered and degraded.

The mission of the Aina Mauna Legacy Program and its implementation is to protect a large portion of this native Hawaiian forest that is ecologically, culturally and economically self-sustaining for the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, its beneficiaries and the community.

Protection begins with invasive species eradication, most specifically the invasive weed Gorse. Protected area includes the koa/ohia forest ecosystems on the makai portion of the property and the mamane forest on mauka portions of the site.

Introduction of commercial timber operations have been proven as a method to fight Gorse which is shade intolerant. With a healthy restored and expanded forest, practitioners and crafters will have a wide range of cultural and economic opportunities for a variety of koa wood product production.

In addition to forest restoration, the Aina Mauna Legacy Program incorporates homesteading, pasture use, ecotourism and other uses, all geared to fulfilling the mission of sustainability. The time commitment for the Legacy Program and restoration of the land is long term, essentially for the next 100 years and beyond.

To be named “Koa: Standing the Test of Time” winner candidates had to demonstrate the use of innovative approaches, techniques or technologies in improving the quality of Hawaii’s forests, demonstrate leadership and a general concern for the overall welfare of Hawaii’s environment, have a positive impact in the community, and demonstrate creativity or uniqueness in their efforts to promote Hawaii forest sustainability, particularly in regards to Koa. Koa is one of the predominant and highest value tree species found naturally in the Humuula/Piihonua lands.

“Restoration of the land upon which native Hawaiians have always depended is key to the success of the beneficiaries,” said Hookuleana LLC’s President Peter T. Young. “Over the past 150 years the land transformed away from a healthy, dense native forest. Ultimately, and as an over-arching principle, the Aina Mauna Legacy Program is about and for the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, the land and its beneficiaries.”

Hawaii’s Woodshow, which allows only Hawaiian-grown wood works of art, is designed to strengthen appreciation for artists’ work and encourage sustainable forestry through the planting of native and non-native trees. The Show continues through Sunday, April 11 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Academy Art Center.

Show sponsors include Kamehameha Schools, the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawai’i Department of Agriculture, Department of Forestry and Wildlife, and Woodcraft Hawai’i as well as many other contributors and a dedicated team of volunteers lead by Woodshow Coordinator Marian Yasuda.

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