Although special events in the forest, and in schools or public venues, have been suspended due to COVID-19, Restoration of Keau’ohana has continued on a weekly basis throughout the summer months. We continue to progress in our first and foremost goal, to keep Keau’ohana going despite endless environmental, social and economic challenges.
Unfortunately, the Hawai’i State Legislature did not appropriate funding for operating and capital improvement project grants-in aid due to the State’s changing financial circumstances. This has been our largest source of support in the past half dozen years of environmental efforts, therefore it is a great loss. The Dislocated Worker Disaster Grant which we were much looking forward to was also reneged for similar reasons. Thankfully, the Atherton Foundation offered a moderate award, which should get us through the year. Hawaii Environmental Restoration (HER) is now preparing to focus on coordinating with other entities around volunteer support options for the forest, and to lessen our need for financial aid. Grant writing is in order as well; we are moving forward to expand our reaches, and perhaps determine possible sponsors.
In spite of the tremendous difficulties we are being faced with, the current pandemic forces some good changes upon our world in relationship to the earthly environment. HER will be focused on developing online educational sessions for people and schools regarding ways to help support our localized lowland environment here in Hawai’i. This will include a familiarization of the plant species to be most aware of both native, and invasive. In looking at what it means to malama O ka ‘aina, to tend the land, with self-sustaining intention, we will also clarify Polynesian introductions, and other important edible plant species to include in home gardens.