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The Conversation

A new partnership will create a living laboratory in Kohala on Hawaiʻi Island

system-hcf-iole-feature.jpg Kohala Institute
Michael Darden/Kohala Institute
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There’s a grand plan taking shape on the west side of Hawaiʻi Island. It started with a gift of 2,400 acres to the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation from the New Moon Foundation and the Kohala Institute.

The continuous ahupua’a, a division of land in Native Hawaiian culture from the mountains to the ocean, will be home to a place-based nonprofit research center focused on sustainability solutions.

There are many hands working on this, including the University of Hawaiʻi and Arizona State University.

The Conversation talked to Alapaki Nahale-a, who is stepping up to manage the ahupuaʻa.

The University of Hawai'i regent and interim CEO of the living laboratory, named ʻIole, had just come in from a visit out in the field.

“The mauka lands are important for forestry, capturing our rain, and bringing it into our ‘āina. Historically there’s been a blend of conservation type of work there, but also ranching. We talk about having a 21st-century ahupuaʻa. It’s not about removing all uses. It’s about finding ways to have uses that are in balance with the environment," he said. "We need to find ways to live in balance with our environment, get along as a community, and work towards more well-being for the earth and for us."

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 10, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

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