This past month, several of our Core Dance Artists joined environmentalists and dance artists in Hawaii as part of our continued relationship with Global Water Dances. As part of this effort we relied on the valuable guidance and insight of several Hawaii-based partner organizations who do important environmental work on the frontlines of the global water crisis. One of these organizations is Hawai’i Environmental Restoration (HER), a non-profit organization focused on the restoration and preservation of Keau’ohana State Forest Reserve.
Our artists greatly enjoyed their collaboration with Jaya Dupuis, President of Hawai’i Environmental Restoration and Project Director of the Keau’ohana Native Rainforest Restoration effort.
The work that Jaya and her team conducts varies greatly and includes both work on the ground in the rainforest, and engaging with the local community about the importance of preserving the land. When asked about a typical day in the life of her organization she shares “In the forest a lot of the activity involves invasive species control. That’s the bulk of our work, to keep the invasive species at bay in protection of the native species. But we also do quite a bit of planting of the native species in Keau’ohana as well.” The control efforts Jaya mentions include a great deal of hand-pulling and building large compost piles over an area of land that spans around 30 acres. Moderate herbicidal treatments of larger stems and clusters are a necessary component to the work.
For those located in Hawaii, HER has created several innovative ways to become involved in the forest. She shares “People are welcome to come join us in our restoration work”, and one of the ways they do this is by opening up their Monday efforts to those interested in participating. HER holds quarterly volunteer work parties in honor of Solstices and Equinoxes, and regularly coordinates special volunteer events with school and community groups. She shares “Recently, I developed a new possibility for people to adopt their own plot inside the forest. Once they learn how to care for their area, they can come and go as they please. People derive a deep sense of peace when in nature, and sometimes working the land is just what we need to clear our minds and ground ourselves”. She feels all of these options are important ways to empower locals in learning about vegetation issues and solutions, and provide them with the ability to make a direct impact toward conservation in Hawai’i’s compromised and fragile environment.
As passionate as Jaya is about the conservation and preservation work HER does, she is equally as committed to educating local communities about the work they do, why it matters, and how people can support the lowland environment at large in a motion toward sustainable living.
Thank you Jaya for sharing your knowledge and passion with us, we are so grateful.
To find out more about Hawai’i Environmental Restoration, click here.
For those interested in learning more about Hawai’i’s environment, check out her plant identification guide which clearly separates and organizes the most common native, Polynesian-introduced and invasive species in lowland Hawai’i, Hawai’i Plant World Essentials.
To find out more about how you can join the fight for safe water, visit our webpage.