The Auwahi Forest Restoration Project...
...(Auwahi project for short) originated in 1997 as a grass roots, community-based effort in working in collaboration with `Ulupalakua Ranch to save tracts of highly endangered dry forest at Auwahi as biological and cultural sanctuaries. Based on ecological success and community support, the Ranch committed progressively larger tracts towards forest restoration and preservation. Since inception, the Auwahi project has restored forest primarily with the efforts of supervised volunteers from the community. As time proceeded, we have developed a large group of volunteers that are passionate, informed, and with strong sense of ‘aloha ‘aina (love of land) for Hawaiian places, forests and culture.
The Auwahi project has been in operation for 19 years and is now widely regarded as one of the most successful examples of community-based native forest restoration in the islands. Volunteers, and most who visit the forest, are left moved by the experience of being in a native forest, participating in its protection, and planting seedlings of native Hawaiian trees that will likely live for hundreds of years, perpetuating this forest sanctuary for decades to come.
The Auwahi Forest Restoration Project now serves a broad range of the Maui community, including school students, canoe paddlers, educators, ranchers, policy makers, scientists, artists and photographers. This community involvement is accomplished primarily through our monthly tree planting trips, conducted in remote mountain settings, but also through educational and outreach efforts.
Besides for a visionary landowner and the volunteering public, the Auwahi Project is fortunate to have a small crew of dedicated staff lead by Dr. Arthur Medeiros, program manager.
"As a local boy from Kane’ohe, O’ahu, I came to know and love Hawaiian plants. I read Joseph Rocks often-poetic descriptions of these Hawaiian treasures of incomparable value growing at Auwahi, a far-off forest on Maui, and was deeply moved by them. Later, as a biologist, my dreams came alive when I had a chance not only to visit these areas but also to participate in efforts to save them.
Dreams wouldn’t have gone farther than the first site visist without the complete empathy and support of the landowners, the Erdman family of ‘Ulupalakua Ranch. First Pardee Erdman, and now his son Sumner, have always made one thing clear-“Let’s see if we can run an honest, productive business and yet at the same time, do the right thing.” This unflagging ethic of giving back to the land and community that supports them has been the precipitate for a multi-agency collaboration dedicated to protecting and restoring the superb Auwahi forests. Throughout all our years out there, the Erdmans have encouraged biologists to come and try to bring life back to Auwahi forest. For this, they deserve our most sincere mahalo loa."- Arthur C. Medeiros P.h.D