Pastures & Forests
The forests, as the home of the akua, were seen as awesome and profoundly spiritual places. One did not enter them, or take from them, without first asking permission, and respectful behavior was always shown to all of the beings that lived there.
-Puanani O. Anderson-Fung, Ethnobotanist
Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. When prioritizing a deep sense of kuleana above all other goals, agroforestry can be a way of working more attentively with nature's processes and forms.
There are many land management practices that fall under the heading of "agroforestry." All agroforestry practices are aimed at providing food, sustenance or harvestable crops with minimal disruptive human impact on the land and water.
Agroforestry uses the forest ecosystem as its foundation. Trees are often used to provide shade for food crops and other plants. Trees are also used to increase moisture and humidity zones, and to create "micro-climates" within larger land areas.
Agroforestry practices have improved soil, air and water quality, and can reduce topsoil erosion and surface water runoff. The wood produced in agroforestry systems can be harvested to make canoes and implements or for woodworking, building or firewood.
"Silvopasture" is a group of agroforestry practices used by herders to graze their livestock in wooded areas. In silvopasture, trees are used to protect and corral livestock animals and protect them from predators. Forage crops and cover crops can be grown between trees to feed livestock while fertiziing the soil.
Agroforestry systems are used widely across Polynesia, frequently in the form of "food forests." In this type of agroforestry system, trees may be harvested for their fruit or serve as shade for lower layers of food-producing crops.
This Course segment shares some basics on agroforestry practices, and information on important land restoration projects involving Hawaiian koa trees and 'ōhi'a trees that are currently underway.
Ready to start learning more?
Go to the first segment of this Course:
Work with trees to create a forest-based growing system. Learn the many types of forest-based cultivation. Preserve and restore the forest while producing food.
A food forest is a low maintenance, agroforestry method that mimics natural forest ecosystems to provide food and sustenance. Learn how to start one.
Restoring native forest ecosystems is an important part of kuleana in Hawai‘i. Learn about the importance of native plants and their roles in the ecosystem.