NOAA pilots climate resilience project to support smart agriculture in Hawaii

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The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working with partners in Hawaii to launch a new pilot project to co-produce a poly-forestry climate dashboard with the Keaukaha Panaʻewa Farmers Association (KPFA) for the community of Panaʻewa.

The ‘Keaʻahuli O Panaʻewa – Poly-Forestry and Climate Dashboard’ pilot project aims to establish a food forest – a species-rich, multilayered poly-forestry system that contains useful food and medicinal plants and extends up, down and out. The project will build farmer knowledge about the effects of changing weather and climate patterns such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, and foster community engagement and agro-resiliency in the Panaʻewa Homestead.

Poly-forestry is a traditional Pacific Island system for managing land use that aims to increase the overall yield of the land by combining the production of crops (including tree crops) and forest plants and/or animals on a given unit of land. The pilot will apply management practices that are culturally compatible with the local population.

Don Graves, US deputy secretary of commerce, said, “Ensuring that NOAA’s climate data and tools are useful for everyone, and building community resilience to climate change reflect the core fundamentals of equity at the Department of Commerce. I’m excited that Keaʻahuli brings together so many partners that are dedicated to learning from each other and working together to put data to work in a way that benefits the community.”

Supported by a US$150,000 investment from NOAA in the project, KPFA will partner with NOAA, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii at Mānoa to blend traditional knowledge associated with poly-forestry and planting with western science and utilize NOAA data and climate expertise to create a data set for the homestead community.

Project objectives include:

Co-producing an agricultural and climate dashboard for the Panaʻewa area based on the climate predictions for the year.

Designing and creating a poly-forestry system that is resilient and responsive to the climate and environmental conditions in Panaʻewa.

Fostering community resilience and food security through agricultural training, education and volunteer opportunities.

The pilot project was developed in response to feedback received during a 2021 climate and equity talk story on ‘Equitable resilience in light of a climate emergency.’ The talk story was an opportunity for the NOAA leadership to hear from communities, organizations and agencies in Hawaii and determine how to better serve them by enhancing their understanding of climate change impacts and adaptation, increasing their capacity to take actions that will enhance resilience, and doing so in a manner that is right for all.

Dr Rick Spinrad, NOAA administrator, said, “The climate and equity talk story in 2021 helped open a dialog about how NOAA can best serve communities in Hawaii by providing climate data and tools that can help them be more resilient in light of climate change. I’m excited and honored to continue listening, learning and building useful tools as we move forward with this project. Making NOAA’s vast array of climate data accessible, understandable and relevant will help the Panaʻewa Hawaiian Homestead community plan, prepare and build food security for changing conditions, and build a prosperous future.”

Maile Luʻuwai, KPFA president, added, “Mahalo to NOAA for selecting us as a project partner. Keaʻahuli is an exciting opportunity for our Hawaiian community to engage in science-driven akamai agriculture to grow resilient, abundant food. Keaʻahuli will use climate change as a positive force for food security in Hawaii.”

Keaʻahuli is part of an investment by NOAA in seven pilot projects in the coming years. Each regional pilot will respond directly to feedback received from partners during climate and equity roundtable discussions that were conducted in 2021. Pilots will take a unique, place-based approach to help vulnerable communities better understand, prepare for and respond to climate change.

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Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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