There is a growing interdisciplinary movement to integrate place-based knowledge and local practices into resource management in Hawai‘i through community-based approaches. This research explores the underlying conditions for successful implementation of community-managed forests (CMF) in Hawai‘i, with a focus on how specific land ownership arrangements and assemblage of actors influence the collaborative resource management process and outcomes. By understanding what variables tend to result in successful outcomes, mixed methods in social science can support and inform community-based forest management.
Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) research highlights the importance of local circumstances including social, cultural, political, ecological, institutional, and economic contexts as determinants of success of collaborative management efforts (Berkes, 2007; Waylen, Fischer, Mcgowan, Thirgood, & Milner-Gulland, 2010). There is a robust literature base on best practices for successful CBNRM and common-pool resource management; however, there are few models to follow that share Hawaii’s particular historical, cultural, and land tenure contexts. While there are examples of collaboratively managed marine systems in Hawai‘i, contemporary examples of community-managed forests (CMF) in Hawai‘i are rare or just emerging, and are therefore not represented in the literature.
This research will explore the underlying conditions for the successful implementation of community-based forests in Hawai‘i, addressing Hawaii’s distinctive historical, cultural, and land tenure context that is missing in contemporary community forestry literature. The central research question of this work is: What are the pathways and opportunities for the development and successful implementation of community-managed forests in Hawai‘i? This research will explore the following research questions:
Question 1:What are likely key indicators of success in community-based natural resource management and community-managed forests in Hawai‘i?
Question 2:How can the lessons learned from international and national collaboratively managed forests and CBNRM in Hawaiian marine systems be applied to the development of community-managed forests in Hawai‘i?
Question 3:What are the opportunities for the development of community-managed forests on the Island of Hawai‘i?
Question 4:How is community-based natural resource management emerging in Hawai‘i?
The purpose of this research is to: (i) improve understanding of important indicators of success (and how to apply them) to CBNRM and CMF specific to Hawaii’s land tenure, Indigenous culture, and colonial contexts; (ii) articulate pathways and opportunities for the development of community-managed forest projects in Hawai‘i; and to (iii)support community-based efforts to establish and manage forests in Hawai‘i, which have the potential to support healthy ecosystems, increase sustainable economic opportunities, and support Hawaiian cultural practice by improving community access to land for stewardship and cultural practice.
These themes will be explored through a triangulation of existing literature and theory with data from semi-structured interviews. This research will integrate: a systematic literature review that will include national and international community-based management and common-pool resources literature, with a focus on examples that share similar land tenure, Indigenous culture, and colonial contexts with Hawai‘i; literature review and semi-structured interviews with Hawai‘i-based resource managers, cultural practitioners, and landowners to explore local perceptions of current gathering and stewardship opportunities, to gather insight into factors perceived to be important indicators of success for CBNRM in Hawai‘i, and to explore the current climate surrounding CBNRM in Hawai‘i; and, (Chapter 3) a case study of an emerging community-managed forest program on state-managed land in Hawai‘i that integrates lessons from chapters one and two. This research is theoretically grounded in and guided by existing CMF research, common pool resource (CPR) literature, and the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) and Social-ecological systems (SES) frameworks.