OHA wins award for exemplary land management plan

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Photo: OHA Land Paia and Partners
OHA Land Paia and partners with Hawaiʻi-island based community advisory council, ʻAha Kūkākūkā, that worked collaboratively on developing the award-winning comprehensive management plan for Wao Kele o Puna. – Photo: Kaipo Kīʻaha

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Land Program and partners were awarded with the American Planning Association Award for Cultural/Historic Preservation for their work to create the Wao Kele o Puna Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP). Through a two-year process, the OHA Land Program and partners, Hoʻokuleana LLC, Forest Solutions Inc., Nohopapa Hawaiʻi, and Cultural Surveys Hawaiʻi, Inc. worked closely with Puna community members to create a comprehensive plan for managing Wao Kele o Puna. Encompassing 25,800 acres, Wao Kele o Puna is one of the largest tropical lowland rainforests in Hawaiʻi and it is managed by OHA.

Aerial Photo: Wao Kele o Puna
Wao Kele o Puna – Photo : Kaipo Kīʻaha

A substantial component to the planning process was community engagement, which was conducted through ethnohistorical interviews, a community advisory council called the ʻAha Kūkākūkā, and two public meetings. The plan serves as a model for integrating traditional Hawaiian knowledge into modern forestry management and provides opportunities for community participation.

The OHA Land Program and partners received the Cultural/Historic Preservation Award from the American Planning Association at the Hawaiʻi Congress of Planning Officials Conference on September 11, 2019.

The Wao Kele o Puna Comprehensive Management Plan seeks to be a unique, innovative and culturally competent planning document. It does not simply include culture as a component of the CMP, but features culture as the driving force and lens through which the CMP is created, will be implemented, and allowed to evolve. While the CMP embraces modern day science, technology and proven best practices in conservation, it does so through a cultural perspective. Ultimately, the CMP provides a culturally competent stewardship framework for OHA to implement recommended actions.

“OHA is honored that the incorporation of the vision and input of our beneficiaries and the greater community is being recognized,” said OHA Land Program Manager Jonathan Ching. “We firmly believe that this is an avenue for collective impact and that our people are the key for implementing plans of this nature with meaningful and long-lasting results.”

Watch the OHA video production “Blending Traditional & Modern Land Management at Wao Kele o Puna” that followed the creation and Board of Trustees’ approval of the plan at vimeo.com/262134834.

Visit www.oha.org/waokeleopuna to view a copy of the Wao Kele o Puna Comprehensive Management Plan.