Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a
Community-Based Subsistence Forest Area

Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a aims to restore 84 acres in Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a, transforming pastureland to native forests, improving access to culturally important plant species, enhancing biocultural education for K-12, and improving community wellbeing, amidst climate changes.


We envision a vibrant and engaged kaiāulu that is multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-talented, applying our skills, talents, strengths, service, and aloha to maintain presence and productivity on this ʻāina aloha of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa, in cooperation with our hoaloha from public and private agencies, as well as individuals.

Program Description / Summary

Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a is being developed in response to changes in land use and global climate that have impacts on biocultural resources of the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve within the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest. This initiative is a growing partnership of multi-generational community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and agencies working to transform 84-acres of pastureland into native dryland and mixed-mesic forest in Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a, foster biocultural education for K-12 students, and enhance community wellbeing. This land-based project is also a model of collaboratively developed and implemented community-based partnership natural resource management. The project area once contained some of the most diverse dryland forests in the state of Hawai‘i, but has changed due to logging and grazing, and is now dominated by invasive, fire-prone grasses.
puʻuwaʻawaʻa dryland forest
puʻuwaʻawaʻa outplanting seedlings

Need For Community-Based Forest At Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a

Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a is a collaborative multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-talented community committed to perpetuating practices of aloha ‘āina at Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a. The weaving together of multiple knowledge systems is necessary to develop and implement innovative community-driven and community-based reforestation and stewardship strategies. Indigenous and local knowledge has been brought to the fore of resource stewardship in the past 10 years, and in the face of drought and climate change, to complement conventional approaches to restore and sustain healthy lands within Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a for the benefit and wellbeing of current and future generations.
Ka ʻĀina Aloha O Nāpuʻupūʻalukinikini
Connecting to Place with the Keakealani ʻOhana

Goals / Objectives

The goals of Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a are to:

  1. Support community-based reforestation and stewardship,
  2. Increase gathering access to culturally important plant species and to promote access to ‘āina for cultural practices,
  3. Sequester carbon to help mitigate climate change and ocean acidification,
  4. Increase capacity for bio-cultural education, and
  5. Provide a model for community-based reforestation on public lands.
puʻuwaʻawaʻa outplanting
puʻuwaʻawaʻa fencing

Expected Benefits

  1. Fenced exclosure of 84-acres surrounding the cone (completed)
  2. Removal of invasive species to lower wildfire risk and promote native plant species regeneration (ongoing)
  3. Development of community-based forest stewardship in rural outer island location (ongoing)
  4. Conservation of native biodiversity through education, stewardship, and research collaborations (ongoing)
  5. Improved access to opportunities for cultural practices and stewardship and to culturally important plant species (ongoing)
  6. Increased mālama ‘āina livelihood opportunities for kama‘āina (ongoing)


Mālama ‘Āina

  • Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Stewardship Plan in development, facilitated by Ulu Ching, Conservation International
  • Hawai‘i Game Management completed fencing of the 84-acre project area on June 13, 2020 and installed four gates to ensure ease of access for the community and repaired a few already fenced areas that had been damaged by cattle.
  • Full-time Community Forest Restoration Coordinator, Ashley-Ann Kaleionehu Shaw, hired in January 2021
  • Full-time Community Forest Restoration Technician, Ku‘unahenani Keakealani, hired in August 2022
  • Ongoing seed collections and plant care to support our reforestation effort
  • Our reforestation team has continued to implement Hawaiian cultural practices into our restoration and management effort. To date, our approach has been completely organic. Ongoing maintenance of our project area includes invasive species removal, ungulate control, regular fence inspections and maintenance, watering, and care for seedlings (both in the nursery and outplanted).  
  • With the help of P-CBSFA staff, partners, and volunteers, our reforestation team has, to date, planted 685 native and Polynesian-introduced canoe plants, including A‘ali‘i, Koa, Kukui, Iliahi, Mānele, Māmaki, Māmane, ‘Ōhia, and Wiliwili, with 395 of those planted in 2023. We received 931 new plants from the Waimea State Tree Nursery in June 2023 and continue to care for them in our field nurseries at Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a. These will be planted over the next few months when the weather conditions are ideal (rainy).

Pilina: Community & Resources

  • Quarterly presentation of P-CBSFA work to Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Advisory Council
  • Annual quarterly meetings in 2018-2023, including two community meetings
  • Interviews with lineal descendants of Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a and Pu‘uanahulu about local plant and fire knowledge, which has informed species selection and reforestation methods
  • Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a contracted Geometrician Associates to create a resource report designed to collate reference material for use by the P-CBSFA and for reference by the public. The report discusses the geology, biology and botany, historical information, cultural history and archaeological surveys, jurisdictions and boundaries, incorporating rainfall, grazing paddocks, exclosure locations, soils, and maps of roads and trails, and was finalized in spring of 2020. While the original intention of this report was to have a written resource created, we expanded this vision together with Geometrician Associates, who developed a web application which features a searchable interactive map that details resources and history of the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Cinder Cone in the North Kona District of Hawai‘i. This expanded scope increased the utility and accessibility of this resource.
  • Presentations at the 2020 and 2021 Hawai‘i Conservation Conferences

Education and Outreach: 

  • In 2023, we hosted a total of 178 volunteers and visitors, engaging in education, land restoration, stewardship, invasive species removal, and native plant outplanting. This included school groups, volunteer groups, and Kaiāulu Hana days. 
  • We collaborated with and hosted the following Pilina ‘Āina groups: 33 students and teachers from Alo Kehau o ka Aina Mauna and Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino; 18 students and teachers from Waianae Middle School;  and 16 students and 1 teacher from Waimea Middle School. We also supported the Annual Biocultural Blitz at Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a, through the ‘Ōhi‘a Trail Challenge, which reached an additional 450 students.
  • In 2023 we also worked with 29 volunteers with a Crossfit group; 38 students and program coordinators from the UH Hilo PIPES program, and; 36 volunteers with the Indigenous Agroforestry Network, Mahi‘ai Limalau Aloha (MĀLA ‘Ōiwi), engaging in knowledge exchange about reforestation methods.
  • Our team created plant information cards for native and culturally important plants that have been given to families to grow at home.
  • We distributed 86 seedlings to community members in 2023.
  • We are looking forward to building our volunteer program in 2024. Please sign up here to become part of our volunteer hui.

Kilo: Monitoring

  • In 2022 we finalized a monitoring plan for tracking survivorship of planted species, and have begun utilizing this plan. Our monitoring plan draws on the traditional Hawaiian practice of kilo (to observe) and conventional vegetation survey methods.  This approach aligns with our cultural values and provides valuable insights into the health and development of the forest ecosystem. Our monitoring plan includes culturally important indicators such as the moon phase when outplanted, kilo observations during plantings and monitoring days, and olelo no‘eau.We created a database in Airtable to update and maintain these records.  In our first annual monitoring assessment we found a 97% survival rate.
  • In 2023, with the support of the University of Hawaiʻi Mesonet, we have installed a Mesonet tower to monitor weather and climate. The tower is situated at the highest point of the puʻu (Latitude 19.772220°, Longitude -155.830720°). This station will provide up-to-the-minute data on rainfall rates; soil moisture, temperature, and heat conduction; solar radiation; net radiation; air temperature; humidity; air pressure; wind speed and direction; other variables that are needed to estimate the rate of evapotranspiration; the amount of water going from the soil and vegetation into the air.

Working Maps

puʻuwaʻawaʻa story map

Working Maps

puʻuwaʻawaʻa story map
Maps were divided into “story maps” with narrative and the working maps, each with its own URL.

Want to learn more about the P-CBSFA's approach to dryland restoration and stewardship?

Kōkua aku, kōkua mai: an indigenous consensus-driven and place-based approach to community led dryland restoration and stewardship was published in 2022 in a Special Issue of Forest Ecology and Management. Dr. Katie Kamelamela, former Community Forest Administrator of the P-CBSFA was lead author, collaborating closely with Dr. Christian Giardina and with the larger P-CBSFA hui.

Kōkua aku, Kōkua mai



Community Forest Restoration Technician
Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a


Community Forest Restoration Coordinator
Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a

Learn More or Get in Touch

puʻuwaʻawaʻa dryland forest
Kaiāulu Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Hui Email

Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Location

map of puʻuwaʻawaʻa
puʻuwaʻawaʻa map of 84 acre parcel of PCBSFA
Map of the 84-acre parcel of the Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Community Based Subsistence Forest Area

Partnerships & Support

Program Support

  • Kamaʻāina
  • Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests
  • DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife
  • Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest
  • USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and Region 5 State & Private Forestry
  • Hui Aloha Kīholo
  • University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Botany and Geography Departments
  • University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit
  • Purdue University, Forestry and Natural Resources Department
  • Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center, UH Manager Climate Change Corps Program
  • Tropical Hardwood Improvement and Regeneration Center
  • University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Mahalo Nui to Our Funders and Collaborators

  • Laura Jane Musser Fund (2017)
  • Dorrance Family Foundation (2018 and 2022)
  • DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (2017 - present)
  • USDA Forest Service (2017 - present)
  • Kupu Hawaiʻi Youth Conservation Corps and Conservation Leadership Development Program (2017 - present)
  • Patagonia Foundation (2017, 2019, 2022)
  • Each Foundation (2019)
  • USFS Landscape Scale Restoration Grant (2019)
  • Tropical Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (2019-2021)
  • Pacific Island Climate Science Adaptation Center (PI-CASC): "Malo‘o ka lani, wela ka honua (When the sky is dry, the earth is parched): Investigating the cultural dimensions of indigenous local knowledge responses to changing climate conditions" website to project is here
  • Manager Climate Change Corps Grant
  • And Mahalo Nui to the multiple organizations who have provided grants who wish to remain anonymous