Research Projects 2020-2022

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

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Leah Bremer
Co-INVESTIGATORS: Tamara Ticktin, Clay Trauernicht, Kawika Winter
Graduate Fellow: Jade Delevaux

Against the backdrop of the Pali mountainscape, a long line of volunteers prepare to plant
Community agroforestry planting work day in Heʻeia, Oʻahu. Approximately 200 people ages 1 thought 85 attended.

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 agroforest producer interviews and environmental, social, and economic data sets to develop scenarios of agroforest 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.