The beginning work of the Foundation will focus on two geographies: the Puʻuwaʻawaʻa and Laupāhoehoe ahupuaʻa. These two areas are rich, living cultural landscapes— home to passionate and engaged communities including active community-based advisory councils. These two geographies are also home to the Laupāhoehoe and Puʻuwaʻawaʻa units of Hawaiʻi Experimental Tropical Forest, and so a legacy geography for the Foundation and an area that has received significant scientific attention. Finally, in both geographies, managers have a strong commitment to collaborative stewardship. These elements represent key ingredients to achieving the Foundation’s mission.
Ahupua‘a of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa, is the 38,885 acre dryland portion of HETF. Meaning “Many-Furrowed Hill”, Puʻuwaʻawaʻa holds some of the state’s last remnants of Hawaii’s dryland forests. Puʻuwaʻawaʻa is home to hundreds of species of native plants and animals, with a watershed that extends from 6,400 feet to sea level. This unique landscape is ideal for research, protection, and restoration, as it supports all of the major types of Hawaiʻi’s forests and provides examples of forests that range from being vibrant to being degraded.
The Hawai'i Experimental Tropical Forest (HETF) in the Ahupua‘a of Laupāhoehoe. HETF is a partnership between Institute of Pacific Studies, State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). HETF provides, “landscapes, facilities, and data/information to support research and education activities.” The Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests will begin our work in the Laupāhoehoe and Pu’u Wa’awa’a units of the HETF. (DLNR, 2016)