Take the BCIP Survey!

Are you interested in connecting with scholars, instructors, students, and community organizations who share a common goal of thinking holistically to enhance understanding of biocultural systems? Are you committed to conducting culturally sensitive, place-based, indigenous respecting, community serving research, teaching, and engagement in the Pacific? Consider being involved in the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific (BCIP)!

We want to hear from you! We are gathering ideas for the future of BCIP and information about members to update our website and co-develop the Initiative’s future. Please respond to this survey to share your thoughts and info: https://forms.gle/yvNmKrwNuPXfQyrE6

We appreciate your participation and look forward to continued collaboration!

Biocultural Hui Gathering 🗓

Please join us as the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific (BCIP) welcomes 2020 with an all-hands brainstorming meeting to get (re)acquainted with each other and to discuss future directions for the Initiative. Recent semesters have seen a number of BIP doings, and in Fall 2019 we had a fantastic Biocultural Diversity Seminar, in which 15 students pursued a wide-range of interdisciplinary projects within the biocultural realm. There is much to celebrate and much to look forward to, and we are calling for this meeting as an opportunity to refresh our coordination and collaboration towards the coming semesters. We welcome past, current and future students of the Biocultural Seminar, affiliated faculty, and anyone with an interest in biocultural engagement. Light refreshments will be served. 

When: Monday, February 24, 2020
Time: 3:30 – 5:00pm
Where: Tokioka Room (Moore 319)

Kūlani Noi‘i Award Presentations April 6 🗓 🗺

On behalf of the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific and Kamehameha Schools we invite you to the Kūlana Noi‘i Award presentations:

When: Monday, April 6, 2020
Time: 3:30-5:30 pm
Where: HIG 210

With funding from Kamehameha Schools, the Kūlana Noi‘i Award for Biocultural Engagement aims to institutionalize community-based research by providing support for undergraduate or graduate students to engage with the community and/or resource managers in Hawaiʻi to foster meaningful relationships for effective research and ‘āina (land and sea) management. In 2019 the inaugural award supported six UH students, each of whom will be giving a short presentation about the community engagement aspects of their research. 

2019 Kūlani Noi‘i Award Recipients:

  • Samantha Alvarado
  • Danielle Bartz
  • Cole Hendrickson
  • Kanoe Morishige
  • Samantha Scott

This will also be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the upcoming 2020 round of Kūlana Noi‘i Award applications. All are welcome, and refreshments will be served. 

A Hawaiian Renaissance That Could Save the World

UH Biocultural Initiative faculty Sam ‘Ohu Gon and Kawika Winter recent published an inspiring essay in American Scientist discussing how the Hawaiian biocultural renaissance can be a model for worldwide sustainability goals.

“If we choose to live in a world where indigenous cultures not only survive but thrive, and their perspectives on resource management are honored and embraced, we can couple that with the best that Western science can offer, reestablish caring reciprocal relationships between people and nature, and remain hopeful for the future of our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”

Image credit: National Tropical Botanical Garden

Graduate Research Assistant opportunity available

Opportunity available for a University of Hawaiʻi Seagrant Fellowship focused on coastal agroforestry systems, carbon storage, and marine health in Hawaiʻi. Fellowship is open to a Masters or PhD student in Botany, Geography, or the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM) (or other relevant department) either currently enrolled or applying for enrollment to start in Fall 2020. Position is a half-time (.50 FTE) 11-Month Research Assistant position, to begin as early as June 1, 2020 or September 1, 2020. Initial appointment is scheduled to run through May 31, 2021 with likely extension through May 31, 2022. Continuation is subject to satisfactory work performance, academic progress, and availability of funds.

Duties: Work with an inter-disciplinary team of community-based non-profits, faculty, and students from the Water Resources Research Center, the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization, Department of Botany, NREM, the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), the Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi, and others to evaluate the potential for agroforestry systems to sequester carbon, protect coral reefs, and support biodiversity and cultural values in Hawaiʻi. Activities will include: GIS analysis and spatial modeling of scenarios of agroforestry throughout the State of Hawaiʻi; ecosystem service modeling of carbon storage and land-sea linkages; field data collection at an existing agroforestry restoration project; community work days to support project management. Ideally, the GRA will develop an independent project in line with overall project goals. 

Minimum Qualifications: Graduate student in NREM, Geography, Botany, HIMB, or related field in good standing, with experience in applied environmental research and excellent writing, communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills. Enjoys working in teams, with community groups, and independently. Strong interest in agroecological systems, ecosystem services, and biocultural conservation and eager to learn new skills and gain new experiences working as part of an inter-disciplinary team. Willingness to gain expertise in ARC GIS and R.

Additional Desirable Qualifications: Experience with agroforestry systems and spatial modeling; connection to Windward Oʻahu; excellent technical skills in R and ARC GIS.

Minimum Monthly salary: $1,919.00 (GA-9) + tuition waiver

To Apply: Submit a letter of interest, CV, one or more writing samples, the names and phone numbers of two references for the position to: Leah Bremer (lbremer [at] hawaii.edu). Applicants not yet enrolled in a graduate program must also apply to a graduate program by the deadline this fall.

Closing Date: Review will begin on December 15, 2019 and will be open until filled

Sciences and the Sacred: Geology & Hydrology of Maunakea 🗓 🗺

Ku‘ulei Kanahele (Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation)
Scott Rowland (Earth Sciences, UHM SOEST)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
5:30-7:00 PM (light pupus at 5:00 PM)

Art Auditorium, UHM

Part of the series:

Sciences and the Sacred: Conversations on Maunakea

This seminar series will foreground discussions of contemporary issues surrounding Maunakea by providing our UH community with a common understanding of why Maunakea is sacred from multiple perspectives. Each seminar will pair a Hawaiian practitioner with a UH Mānoa faculty member to explore topics from various knowledge systems. Our intent is to create a safe space to dialog about complex issues.

Planned seminar topics include:

  • October 29, 2019: Geological and hydrological phenomena of Maunakea
  • November 21, 2019: Meteorological phenomena and island weather systems relevant to Maunakea
  • January 2020: Biodiversity and climate/ecological zones on Maunakea
  • February 2020: Human interactions on Maunakea pre-1778
  • March 2020: Impact of Maunakea on our understanding of the universe

Sponsored by the UH Mānoa Provost’s Office, Hawai‘i Sea Grant Center of Excellence in Integrated Knowledge Systems, and the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific

For more information visit Sea Grant or contact Rosie Alegado (rosie [dot] alegado [at] hawaii [dot] edu).

Biocultural Restoration in Hawai‘i

A new issue of the journal Sustainability focuses on “Biocultural Restoration in Hawai‘i. Edited by BCIP faculty Kawika Winter and Noa Lincoln, along with Kevin Chang, the 14 papers in this issue highlight:

“viable models in the larger effort to restore ʻāina momona, with some focus on the management of forest, streams, nearshore fisheries, traditional crop diversity, traditional food systems, and health and wellness; as well as the legal and policy steps needed to build a foundation that can facilitate this change.”

See the UH New Release or see access the journal here.

Biocultural restoration in Limahuli Valley, Hāʻena, Kauaʻi (Photo credit: Kim S. Rogers)

7th International Conference on Environmental Futures 🗓 🗺

The 7th International Conference on Environmental Future will be held on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, April 16-20, 2018.

The conference will cover eighteen broad themes, each of which will be led by the author of a review on that theme:

  1. What is the importance of islands to environmental conservation? – Prof. Christoph Kueffer, ETH Zurich & University of Applied Sciences Eastern Switzerland
  2. How have humans changed island ecosystems through history? – Prof. Todd Braje, San Diego State University
  3. What are the future challenges for island ecology and evolution? – Prof. Rosemary Gillespie, University of California, Berkeley
  4. How can island conservation contribute to human wellbeing? – Dr Iris Monnereau, FAO
  5. How are islands dealing with the challenge of balancing development with sustainability? – Prof. John Connell, University of Sydney
  6. How can we incorporate the value of island environments into conservation? – Assoc. Prof. Kirsten Oleson, University of Hawaii Manoa
  7. How can indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) be used to improve island environmental futures? – Assoc. Prof. Matthew Lauer, San Diego State University
  8. How can we build island communities that are resilient to the impacts of climate change and environmental hazards? – Dr. Ilan Kelman, University College London & University of Agder, Kristianstand
  9. What role can the humanities play in island conservation? – Emeritus Prof. Garry Trompf, University of Sydney
  10. How does environmental governance on islands currently operate and what forms of governance produce the best outcomes? – Prof. Marion Glaser, ZMT, Bremen
  11. How can we improve island conservation through integrated marine and terrestrial management? – Dr. Stacy Jupiter, WCS Melanesia
  12. What is the current state of knowledge of island extinctions and how can this be used to set baselines for restoration? – Dr. Jamie Wood, Landcare Research, New Zealand
  13. How well are island conservation issues addressed in international conventions and agreements? – Dr. Arthur Dahl, President International Environment Forum & Retired UNEP Deputy Assistant Executive Director
  14. What have we learnt about invasive species on islands and what are the best strategies for dealing with them in the future? – Dr. James Russell, University of Auckland
  15. What is the role of environmental education on islands? – Drs. Fumiyo Kagawa & David Selby, Sustainability Frontiers
  16. How is climate affecting patterns of island migration? – Dr. Maxine Burkett, University of Hawaii Manoa
  17. What are the links between human health and environmental conservation on islands? – Prof. Kerry Arabena, University of Melbourne
  18. How do island sovereignty and conservation relate to each other? – Dr. Alex Mawyer, University of Hawaii Manoa

Review papers on each of these themes have been commissioned and will be published in Environmental Conservation prior to the conference. As papers are published they will be listed here.

Oral tradition and traditional ecological knowledge in Aotearoa New Zealand  🗺

May 15, 2017 — 11:00 AM

Moore Hall 575

Please join the Biocultural Initiative for a talk by visiting scholars Priscilla Wehi and Hemi Whaanga, followed by a conversation over lunch (feel free to bring your lunch). 


Pre European contact Māori culture had a strongly developed tradition of oral literature, and whakataukī (sayings passed down through the generations) enjoyed wide currency. Whakataukī provide an enduring record of tribal memory and represent an important method for transmitting critical information about aspects of life, society and the environment. However, their meanings may not be apparent without knowing the societal, historical, cultural and linguistic context out of which they emerged. Such codified knowledge depends on language use and structure as a key mechanism for cultural transmission.

In this research, together with our collaborators Tom Roa (University of Waikato) and Murray Cox (Massey University) we have identified linguistic markers and principles of textual reconstruction to derive time estimated patterns of knowledge embedded in this form of oral tradition. Our primary dataset of c.4,000 versions of whakataukī is drawn from collections published after European arrival ca. 200 years ago. We indicate the kinds of ecological information available. We will discuss how whakataukī shed light on the connections between humans and their environment that transcend prosaic uses, and illuminate deeper social and behavioural engagement with their surrounding environment.

Bio – Dr Priscilla Wehi

Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua, NZ

Priscilla Wehi is a conservation biologist at New Zealand’s government institute for terrestrial ecology, Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua. She is a 2014-2020 Rutherford Discovery Fellow with interests in biocultural diversity and stable isotope ecology. She completed degrees in Zoology and Animal Ecology, before finishing her PhD in 2006 at the University of Waikato on traditional resource management of harakeke by Māori. Cilla currently works on aspects of human-nature relationships, including past, present and future indigenous resource management, and socio-ecological relationships with introduced species that challenge native ecosystems. She is a mother to three young adults, and is related to Tainui, Tūhoe and Ngāpuhi through marriage.

Bio – Dr Hēmi Whaanga

School of Maori and Pacific Development, University of Waikato, NZ

Hēmi is a linguist and senior research fellow in Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao (The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies) at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa / New Zealand. Hēmi finished a BA in Māori language in 1996, before completing a Masters degree that analysed Māori language structure and the teaching of Māori language. His 2006 PhD investigated discourse relationships between different language elements in Māori. He has worked as a project leader and researcher on a range of projects centred on the revitalisation and protection of Māori language and knowledge. He affiliates to Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu and has two daughters with his wife Katrina.