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Our Current Projects

Enhancing social-ecological resilience and ecosystem services through restoration of coastal agroforestry systems in Hawaiʻi

Agroforestry systems have the capacity to support resilient coastal communities through providing food, conserving native biodiversity, and supporting multiple ecosystem services, and represent growing priorities for conservation initiatives worldwide. Yet, there is a paucity of data on costs and benefits of agroforest restoration and little guidance on where these systems are most likely to provide valued ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration and sediment retention, alongside food production. This project builds on a biocultural agroforestry restoration project in Heʻeia, Oʻahu designed in collaboration with the community-based non-profit Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi. We work at the farm and ahupuaʻa scale in Heʻeia to better understand the ecological, economic, and cultural outcomes of coastal agroforestry restoration through time and combine this experience with agroforestry producer interviews and environmental, social, and economic data sets to develop scenarios of agroforesty restoration options relevant across the State. Based on this, we identify hot spot priority areas that can enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services of high interest to agencies, funders, and communities across the state including local food production, non-timber forest products for market and subsistence use, carbon sequestration, and/or supporting resilient coral reef ecosystems through reducing sediment export. Collectively, this research aims to improve the evidence base of agroforestry and help to match potential incentive programs, such as carbon offsets, with agroforest ecosystem service hotspots that provide multiple benefits and support resilient communities. We will also draw upon our collective experience to organize a workshop for undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs focused on participatory, community-based research or co-production of knowledge through the lens of enhancing ecosystem services and community resilience through agroforestry restoration.

Nature-based solutions for climate action, biodiversity, and people in the United Arab Emirates

This project is led by Emirates Nature-WWF (EN-WWF) in partnership with Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and funded by HSBC. The goal of the four-year project is to test and implement nature-based solutions (NbS) in the United Arab Emirates to address climate change mitigation challenges, promote biodiversity and create opportunities for socio-economic co-benefits. The project is focused on coastal ecosystem-based management and restoration addressing technical, policy and financial aspects with relevance to government and private decision makers. The results will guide decision making towards a policy framework that unlocks political support and financing for NbS to address a range of key national and global policies. Workstream one of this EN-WWF led project conducted a rapid and broad scale multi-criteria site selection process to identify and rank planning units on their suitability for delivering successful outcomes from NbS (Pittman et al. 2021, Pittman et al. 2022). Two high scoring seascapes from the stakeholder-led model) were selected as demonstration sites for implementing NbS. Workstream 2 (currently in progress) conducted an ecosystem services (ES) assessment for the two demonstration seascapes using InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) as a spatial modeling tool (Arkema et al. 2015). Effective ecosystem services assessment to inform the design and evaluation of nature-based solutions requires diverse spatial and aspatial data spanning three broad themes:

1.) biophysical environment;

2.) biodiversity and species distributions; and

3.) human uses, infrastructure, and potential threats

Addressing land-based source pollution on the north shore of Kaua‘i

Water pollution from cesspools threatens the health, economy, and quality of life of residents of Hanalei and nearby communities. Cesspools, a type of antiquated wastewater treatment system where untreated sewage is discharged directly into the ground with minimal filtration, are still used across the Hawaiian Islands and Hanalei is home to over 150 cesspools. We partnered with the Hanalei Initiative to create a web map of existing wastewater systems in the region and rank their relative risk to the environment and human health. Click on the image to the left to view the map. This information is a resource for the community and will be used to prioritize cesspools for upgrades to more environmentally friendly systems. 

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