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Site Manager Wilds Pihanui Brawner teaches students at the Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest.

Ongoing work at Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest fulfills a critical need for a mature tropical dryland forest demonstration site that provides education and inspiration for others. There are three outreach strands: Hoʻōla ka Makanaʻā, Hoʻohele Mea Lāʻau, and Ka Pilina Poina ʻOle.  These three strands, when added to the Aloha ʻĀina, Aloha Kaʻūpūlehu forest restoration strand are pili (entwined, connected).  Each program, while unique, provides curriculum that teaches the ecology of native ecosystems and integrates ideas of culture, mālama, kuleana, and creative thinking.

Yvonne Yarber Carter is the Director of Hoʻōla ka Makanaʻā, which is an outreach and education stewardship program that interfaces land management, science ecology, and restoration of native plants, with a priority to nurture partnerships and collaborations.  This program began in 2002, is the oldest of the four strands and works directly to support the management of Kaʻūpūlehu. The program also:

  • Provides overall coordination for all four programs at Kaʻūpūlehu.
  • Serves as a clearinghouse to HFIA for tracking site visitors and volunteers.
  • Researches and collects land use history of the site.
  • Develops ways to measure educational outcomes and provide reporting.
  • Designs multi-media curriculum and support resources.

Ku‘ulei Keakealani is the Director of Ka Pilina Poina ʻOle.  Dedicated to the perpetuation of homeland knowledge of the Kekaha Region of North Kona, this program focuses on maintaining connections not forgotten through the sharing of oral tradition or oration, ha‘i mo‘olelo.  Ka Pilina Poina ʻOle speaks the history of this place and its native inhabitants from times far past up to present day and emphasizes efforts to foster a responsibility to oneself, family, community and homeland.  This program supports and supplements the other three strands.

Cultural Educator Keoki Apokolani Carter is the Director of the Hoʻohele Mea Lāʻau Program, which integrates hands-on experiences and provides examples of innovation, artistry, utilization and connection to place through sharing different types of lāʻau (wood) and relationships to these materials.  Through use of a “travelling school” in addition to on-site programing, this program features:

  • Science and relationships to native plants.
  • The use of trees and natural resources for implements.
  • The concept of using alternative common and non-native woods in place of endangered species in the construction of traditional implements.
  • Integration of curricula and content from all strands.

Project funders include American Forests; Atherton Family Foundation; Arthur Lawrence Mullaly Fund, Traut Caron Fund, and Kukio Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation; Bill Healy Foundation; Change Happens Foundation; Cooke Foundation; Friends of Hawaii Charities; Dorrance Family Foundation; Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Kūkulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture Program; Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association; IUCN World Conservation Congress Climate Fund; Kamehameha Schools; National Tropical Botanical Gardens; Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and the Office of Innovation and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education’s Education through Cultural & Historical Organizations (ECHO).

Wilds Pihanui Brawner, Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest Site Manager gives planting demonstration for students.


Aupaka o Wao Lama
Aupaka o Wao Lama was a collaborative partnership program among: Kealakehe High and Intermediate School; La‘i ‘Ōpua 2020 Kau I Ka Mālie Cultural Center and Aupaka Ke Kilohana; Salvation Army Family Intervention Services Ke Kama Pono (young men in transition), Hui La‘au Kama‘āina La‘i ‘Ōpua, and Ho‘ola Ka Makana‘ā Ka‘ūpūlehu.

This is a “Learn while doing” place-based stewardship education partnership, integrated cultural ecology, and science ecology. The primary sites of activity were: 1) The community “Piko” area of the native plant Aupaka Preserve, within Hawaiian Homelands of La‘i ‘Ōpua; 2) The L2020 Kau I Ka Mālie Cultural and Technical Center at Kealakehe High School; 3) The cultural ecology outdoor learning site of Ho‘ola Ka Makana‘ā, Ka‘ūpūlehu. Cultural Ecology educators Keoki Apokolani Carter (DOE certified) and Yvonne Yarber Carter coordinated the experiential learning events and curriculum, along with the HFIA dryland forest restoration team, utilizing a combination of cultural knowledge, place-based activities, curriculum and digital resources. This was done within the context of sound conservation practices; and homeland cultural ecology values and history. Kealakehe High and Intermediate School students were the haumana of this experiential learning program.

In 2019, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority awarded HFI $30,000 to help support forest restoration and outreach activities at Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest Preserve.

IUCN WCC Hawai‘i Climate Fund Grant

HFI received a International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) Climate Fund grant.  The Ka‘ūpūlehu Cultural Ecology Team has been engaged in the climate change issue as one of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) sites collaborating with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC).

Links to the PICCC portal:
Maps modeled for Ka‘ūpūlehu:
Firewise maps:

This Climate Change Cooperative partnership gave an hour-long presentation in the Pacific-Pavilion at the 2016 IUCN Conference in Honolulu. Link to the presentation:

Grant funds, with support from Kamehameha Schools, National Tropical Botanical Gardens, and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority allow the Ka‘ūpūlehu Cultural Ecology Team to continue mitigation initiatives in preparation for climate change and stewardship efforts to protect and enhance cultural resources found within the endangered Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest. The Ka‘ūpūlehu team is comprised of four integrated land-based learning and stewardship programs that have mutually beneficial partnering as a foundation of its work.  A significant partnership is with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), as one of a few TEK sites that integrates indigenous science with institutional science to better prepare for climate change and share knowledge across disciplines.

Through diverse outreach and restoration activities, Hawai‘i residents and visitors are helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Adaptive management approaches are the cornerstone of this initiative and by using biocultural and mālama ‘āina “learn-while-doing” approaches, Ho‘ola Ka Makana ‘a Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest engages stakeholders and provide learning opportunities throughout the ahupua‘a giving a mauka/makai, or a well-rounded regional approach to managing this rich and storied place.

Planned hands-on forest restoration activities include invasive plant removal, outplanting native seedlings, seed collection and monitoring wild regeneration of rare native plants.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawaiian Airlines Foundation, Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance Foundation, and Conservation International established the IUCN WCC Hawai‘i Climate Fund. IUCN Grant press release 1-2017

IUCN Presentation

Kanu O Ka Aina Charter School with Keoki Carter

Mahalo to the Pauahi Foundation for raising $2,025 for Ho‘ola Ka Makana‘a at Ka‘ūpūlehu at the silent auction at the Pauahi Foundation Nanea Golf Tournament, which was held April 3, 2017.  Hawaii wood artists Gregg D. Smith and Scott Hare generously donated works to the auction.

In 2010 HFI received funds to create two interpretive audio signs at the Kalaemanō Interpretive Center, a gateway to exploring the historic and environmental connections of the mauka (mountain) and makai (shoreline) environments of the Ka‘ūpūlehu area.


Visit Ka’ahahui ‘O Ka Nāhelehele Dryland Forest Site at for more information about Hawaii’s dryland forest habitats.

Dryland Forest Brochure 7-2010-HFIA

HFI Malama Wao Lama Laminated Field Guide

More About Ka‘ūpūlehu


Kau Brochure
Ka`upulehu Brochure


Learn more about the unique ecology, history and culture of the Ka`upulehu, a land division (or ahupua’a) in North Kona
Download the PDF Brochure (3.13 Mb)

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