Hawaiian dry forests, with less than 3% remaining are of the most threatened ecosystems in the state and worldwide. Auwahi forest, often regarded as one of the most intact and diverse dry forest areas in the state is in a way the last and best stand for forest restoration efforts.
For nearly two decades, the Auwahi project has pioneered the extensive use of community volunteers in it’s forest restoration efforts, both as an outreach method but also as a vital organizational function. The Auwahi project provides vital community education and outreach providing unique opportunities for residents and visitors to be a part of the conservation community doing meaningful work.
Since 2000, over 1,700 volunteers have assisted in the conversion of non-native pastureland back to native dry forest, often developing a personal powerful connection to the land. Through regular volunteer planting, weeding, seed gathering, and research trips, the community has the opportunity to participate and track the progress of their restoration efforts, giving the project great leverage as an outreach site to the community. We are proud that many of the natural resource professionals now employed on Maui and elsewhere, began their careers with volunteer trips at Auwahi.
The Auwahi project volunteer program has received recognition nationally and internationally. It was prominently featured in the volunteerism book Preserving Paradise, and has been repeatedly featured in periodicals including The Oprah Magazine, Maui No Ka’Oi, The Maui News, Maui Weekly and Maui Times Weekly. In 2008 the Auwahi project was nominated for the 2008 Governor’s Award for Volunteership.