Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Community-Based Subsistence Forestry Area


We envision a vibrant and engaged kaiāulu that is multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-talented, applying our skills, talents, strengths, service, and aloha to maintain presence and productivity on this ʻāina aloha of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa, in cooperation with our hoaloha from public and private agencies, as well as individuals.

Program Description / Summary

The Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Community-Based Subsistence Forest Area (P-CBSFA) is being developed in response to changes in land use and global climate that have impacts on biocultural resources of the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve within the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest. The P-CBSFA is a growing partnership of multi-generational community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and agencies working to transform 84-acres of pastureland into native dryland and mixed-mesic forest in Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a, foster biocultural education for K-12 students, and enhance community wellbeing. This land-based project is also a model of collaboratively developed and implemented community-based partnership natural resource management. The project area once contained some of the most diverse dryland forests in the state of Hawai‘i, but has changed due to logging and grazing, and is now dominated by invasive, fire-prone grasses.
fencing at puuwaawaa

Need For Community-Based Forest At Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a

The P-CBSFA is a collaborative multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-talented community committed to perpetuating practices of aloha ‘āina at Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a. The weaving together of multiple knowledge systems is necessary to develop and implement innovative community-driven and community-based reforestation and stewardship strategies. Indigenous and local knowledge has been brought to the fore of resource stewardship in the past 10 years, and in the face of drought and climate change, to complement conventional approaches to restore and sustain healthy lands within Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a for the benefit and wellbeing of current and future generations.

Ka ʻĀina Aloha O Nāpuʻupūʻalukinikini

Connecting to Place with the Keakealani ʻOhana

Goals / Objectives

The goals of the P-CBSFA are to:

  1. Support community-based reforestation and stewardship,
  2. Increase gathering access to culturally important plant species and to promote access to ‘āina for cultural practices,
  3. Sequester carbon to help mitigate climate change and ocean acidification,
  4. Increase capacity for bio-cultural education, and
  5. Provide a model for community-based reforestation on public lands.
Working to plant at puuwaawaa
Working to plant at puuwaawaa

Expected Benefits

  1. Fenced exclosure of 84-acres surrounding the cone
  2. Removal of invasive species to lower wildfire risk and promote native plant species regeneration
  3. Development of community-based forestry in rural outer island location
  4. Conservation of native biodiversity through education, stewardship, and research collaborations
  5. Improved access to opportunities for cultural practices and stewardship and to culturally important plant species
  6. Increased mālama ‘āina livelihood opportunities for kama‘āina


  • Quarterly presentation of P-CBSFA work to Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Advisory Council
  • Annual quarterly meetings in 2018-2021, including two community meetings
  • Interviews with lineal descendants of Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a and Pu‘uanahulu about local plant and fire knowledge, which will inform outplantings
  • Hawaii Game Management completed fencing of the 84-acre project area on June 13, 2020 and installed four gates to ensure ease of access for the community and repaired a few already fenced areas that had been damaged by cattle. 
  • The Hui Nui contracted Geometrician Associates to create a resource report designed to collate reference material for use by the P-CBSFA and for reference by the public. The report discusses the geology, biology and botany, historical information, cultural history and archaeological surveys, jurisdictions and boundaries, incorporating rainfall, grazing paddocks, exclosure locations, soils, and maps of roads and trails, and was finalized in spring of 2020. While the original intention of this report was to have a written resource created, the Hui Nuiexpanded this vision together with Geometrician Associates, who developed a web application which features a searchable interactive map that details resources and history of the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Cinder Cone in the North Kona District of Hawai‘i. This expanded scope increased the utility and accessibility of this deliverable.
  • Multiple Presentations at the 2020 and 2021 Hawai‘i Conservation Conferences
  • Part-time Community Forest Administrator, Dr. Katie Kamelamela, hired in August 2020
  • Full-time Community Forest Restoration Technician, Ashley-Ann Kaleionehu Shaw, hired in January 2021
  • Draft P-CBSFA Stewardship Plan in development, facilitated by Ulu Ching, Conservation International

Working Maps



Maps were divided into “story maps” with narrative and the working maps, each with its own URL.
puuwaawaa dryland forest

Want to learn more about the P-CBSFA's approach to dryland restoration and stewardship?

Kōkua aku, kōkua mai: an indigenous consensus-driven and place-based approach to community led dryland restoration and stewardship was published in 2022 in a Special Issue of Forest Ecology and Management. Dr. Katie Kamelamela, former Community Forest Administrator of the P-CBSFA was lead author, collaborating closely with Dr. Christian Giardina and with the larger P-CBSFA hui.

Current Staff

Ashley-Ann Kaleionehu Shaw

Full-time Community Forest Restoration Technician,  Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests

Born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, Nehu’s experience and passion for Native Hawaiian forest restoration and watershed health is the driving force of her career in conservation. In 2005, Nehu started her conservation career working with Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) with a focus on invasive species management. Throughout college she continued exploring the field of conservation by participating in several internships with various conservation organizations (PIPES, Kupu, USDA Forest Service, Forest Team at Hawai‘i Community College). Nehu received her Associate in Science degree in Liberal Arts from Hawai‘i Community College in 2015, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in 2017, with a background in Botany and Environmental Science. From 2018-2021 she served as the Field Crew Leader for Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance. Nehu is honored to now be a part of the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Community Based Subsistence Forest Area (P-CBSFA) and working alongside people who share her passion of ‘ike Hawai‘i and mālama ʻāina. As the Community Forest Restoration Technician, Nehu is able to apply her experience, knowledge, and skills in watershed management to support the restoration and reforestation efforts of the 75 acre P-CBSFA enclosure on the Kohala side of Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a.

Kuʻunahenani “Nahe” Keakealani

Lead For Hawaiʻi Fellow

Returning to her homelands of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa and Puʻuanahulu, Nahe is a fifth generation cowgirl from Napuʻu. Growing up in Waimea and Napuʻu she found her love for the forest at a young age. Getting the opportunity to ride alongside her papa (Sonny Keakealani), she learned the ridges and forests of Hualalai and Kohala and Mauna kea. She is currently a student at Hawaiʻi Community College where she is working toward her degree in Hawaiian Studies. She started by doing Kupu in 2018 where she and a team of HYCC members put in the first fence line for the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Community-Based Subsistence Forest Area (P-CBSFA). During the summer of 2021 she became a Lead For Hawaiʻi fellow with the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, and her work has focused on helping Nehu Shaw in the field. Fence work and maintenance, plant prep and Planting also invasive species removal.

David Russell

Napu'u Natural Resource Management (NNRM) Botanical Technician

David grew up in Kealakekua, Hawaiʻi. During his last year at UH Hilo he completed a summer internship at the Kaʻūpūlehu Dryland Forest, which sparked his love for the dryland ecosystem. Shortly after graduating with a Bachelors in Geography, David started working at Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Forest Reserve as the Restoration & Outplanting Field Assistant. Now, a year and a half later, he has been granted the opportunity to go back to school and start work on a graduate project at Puʻuwaʻawaʻa. 

The graduate project focuses on the Puʻuwaʻaʻwaʻa Cinder Cone (PCC) and will help inform restoration efforts for the new 84-acre Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Community Based Subsistence Forestry Area. The work will include looking through various documents such as biological assessments, historic documents, oral interviews, etc., to inform us of past and present plant communities of the PCC. A report compiling historic natural and anthropogenic disturbances that have affected the composition of these plant communities will also be created. Another big aspect of the graduate project will be to help plan for future projected climate change on the PCC. This will be done by utilizing GIS and associated data to develop map projections and species lists of past, current, and potential future plants given projected climate change. The end result of this project will be to develop a restoration plan that will help inform community based needs and climate-based challenges.

Learn More or Get in Touch

History Icon

Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Location

Map of the 84-acre parcel of the Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Community Based Subsistence Forest Area

Program Support

  • Kamaʻāina
  • Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests
  • DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife
  • Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest
  • USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and Region 5 State & Private Forestry
  • Hui Aloha Kīholo
  • University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Botany and Geography Departments
  • University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit
  • Purdue University, Forestry and Natural Resources Department
  • Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center, UH Manager Climate Change Corps Program
  • Tropical Hardwood Improvement and Regeneration Center
  • University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Mahalo Nui to Our Funders and Collaborators

  • Laura Jane Musser Fund (2017)
  • Dorrance Family Foundation (2018)
  • DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (2017 - present)
  • USDA Forest Service (2017 - present)
  • Kupu Hawaiʻi Youth Conservation Corps and Conservation Leadership Development Program (2017 - present) 
  • Patagonia Foundation (2017 & 2019)
  • Each Foundation (2019)
  • USFS Landscape Scale Restoration Grant (2019)
  • Tropical Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (2019-2021)
  • Pacific Island Climate Science Adaptation Center (PI-CASC): "Malo‘o ka lani, wela ka honua (When the sky is dry, the earth is parched): Investigating the cultural dimensions of indigenous local knowledge responses to changing climate conditions" website to project is here:https://pi-casc.soest.hawaii.edu/research/research-projects/indigenous_climate_knowledge/
  • Manager Climate Change Corps Grant
  • And Mahalo Nui to the multiple organizations who have provided grants who wish to remain anonymous


WIth many thanks to Katie Kamelamela, Previous Part-Time Community Forest Administrator, Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests

Dr. Katie Kamelamela is a Postdoctoral researcher focused on recording Indigenous Local Knowledge of drought in Hawaii through historical research. Paired with supporting the Puuwaawaa Community Based Forestry Subsistence area she aims to inform how previous and current knowledge of drought in Hawaii, provided by Native Hawaiians and knowledge holders, may inform landscape scale and house unit recognition of drought onset and mitigation of drought like conditions. Her background is in ethnobotany studying Non-Timber Forest Products or forest gathering practices throughout the Hawaiian Islands and utilizes this experience to inform methods of relationship building and boundary spanning between natural resource managers, practitioners and policy.
The Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests is a 501C3 incorporated in the state of Hawai‘i.

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