I moved to the Big Island of Hawai’i in June 2015 on a seventeen-acre property west of downtown Hilo, on the slopes of Mauna Kea. A hundred or so years ago this property was a lush rain forest, dominated by Ōhi’a, Koa and Hapu’u ferns. Then the sugar industry came and went, the forest was decimated, and the native vegetation was gradually replaced by strawbery guava, ginger, Koster’s curse and other invasive plants.
The native Hawaiian forest is beautiful and harmonious, the forest covering my property today is anything but. My longterm goal is to re-establish the habitat that once existed on this land. I initially thought of this project as being about ‘tropical forest restoration’. For the past month or so, however, while exploring the property, I find that many of the native species are still present but struggling to survive, and so my effort must be directed more towards learning how to help the forest heal itself.