Updated: November 29, 2023
An online platform has been launched to gather input and to engage stakeholders on plans for the Kapāpala Koa Canoe Management Area on Hawai‘i.
The 1,257-acre area, also known as the Kapāpala Canoe Forest, holds special significance as it is the only state land currently designated for the purposes of cultivating and providing koa for use in kālaiwaʻa, or traditional Hawaiian canoe construction, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Koa (Acacia koa) is a tree species found only in Hawaiʻi, and its unique wood has properties that have made it highly prized in the construction of waʻa, or canoes, in Hawaiʻi since ancient times, according to DLNR.
“The process of building a canoe is traditionally led by the kahuna kālaiwaʻa, or master canoe carver, and while this tradition is still alive today, access to canoe-quality koa has dwindled,” DLNR reports.
DLNR and its partners hope that this area can be a model for supplying a long-term, sustainable supply of koa, while encouraging regeneration and minimizing impacts to other resources in the area.
The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife has worked with foresters, scientists, community members, canoe clubs, and cultural practitioners for several years to create the draft management plan and associated environmental assessment for the area. These documents outline tree selection and silvicultural practices, harvest considerations, plans for how to apply, andreceive canoe logs.
The draft management plan details how koa and other forest resources will be protected from threats such as feral animals, which can harm trees and prevent regeneration. The plan also describes the history of the area, boundary changes, and its natural and cultural resources.
In addition to producing the draft plan and environmental assessment, DOFAW has developed an online platform to engage people in learning about the Kapāpala Koa Canoe Management Area and to contribute to the planning process.
Using the state’s digital mapping system as a foundation, users can explore engaging virtual tours and information guides describing the area’s history, natural resources, timber harvest plans, threats, public uses, and proposed management priorities.
Users can also participate in an online community survey and find information on how to submit comments for both the management plan and draft environmental assessment that will be included in the planning process.
Written comments for the plan can be submitted in hard copy, if postmarked no later than Wednesday, June 7, 2023:
- By email to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Online at: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/dd8ec10467c94ae6b2dd7763789091f2
- By mail to the Forestry Program Manager at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813