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Ancestral Wisdom & Science Meet in Historic Publication

Feb 18, 2019 | He‘eia, Hawai'i, Healthy Habitats

Kanekoa Kukea-Schultz (left), executive director for KākoʻoʻŌiwi, works with Matthew Fox from The Nature Conservancy in the Heiʻeia Wetlands. This marsh area in the He’eia Reserve is the site of a community-driven effort to restore the former natural, cultural, social, and economic value of these lands for surrounding communities. Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy.

A special issue of Sustainability, focused on biocultural restoration in Hawai`i, made history as the largest collection of scientific publications by Native Hawaiians ever produced. The report was compiled by an interdisciplinary group of researchers from organizations including the He’eia Reserve,  Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, and several Native Hawaiian communities.

“This collective work shows that Hawaii is a global leader in biocultural restoration, with the potential to influence local and international policy,” says lead guest editor Kawika Winter, manager of the Heʻeia Reserve. “Many of us have spent our lives endeavoring to translate ancestral wisdom for a contemporary global audience—producing and interpreting scientific data is one of the most effective ways to do this.”

The special issue highlights the role of biocultural conservation in managing forests, streams, fisheries, and traditional crop diversity and food systems. Biocultural restoration incorporates people and nature in a larger effort to restore the health, function, and resilience of  landscapes and seascapes. The issue emphasizes applied, participatory science that involves academics, government agencies, communities and the private and nonprofit sectors.

Nearly 100 authors answered the call for papers, generating 14 articles. More than a third of the authors are of Native Hawaiian ancestry and more than a third of the authors are women.

Two of the peer-reviewed publications included in the special issue featured research conducted in our He`eia Reserve. One focused on on the Reserve’s fishpond restoration, and another looked at key ecosystem services of the agro-ecological restoration in the wetland.


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