BBC – Earth News – Invasion of the ‘island snatchers’

Almost 400 invasive plant species have set up home as weeds on some of the world’s most distant oceanic islands.

    Hawaii has been particularly inundated by invasive weeds. For Hawaii alone, it is said that 10,000 non-native plant taxa have been introduced to the islands. A vast majority have been deliberately introduced and
Botanist Dr Christoph Kueffer


Clidemia herta<br />Click for Larger image
Clidemia herta
Click for Larger image
About half now dominate their new habitat, and hundreds more species are expected to invade these once pristine islands in the coming years.

So says the most comprehensive survey to date of invasive plants on island archipelagos.

Worse, people are mainly to blame, having repeatedly introduced these weeds into their farms and gardens.

Non-native plants and animals can be extremely destructive.

But while it is undisputed that many invasive animals such as rats and cats pose a major threat to biodiversity, it is less clear what role invasive plants play in changing native habitats.

So botanist Dr Christoph Kueffer of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and colleagues across Europe analysed how many species of invasive plants have become established on island archipelagos. > Business > Kauai Business > Path to sustainability

Hanalei Click for Larger Image
Hanalei         Click for Larger Image        
Kaua‘i  now imports approximately 90% of its daily food. This situation renders us vulnerable to interruptions in shipping, rising fuel costs and an increasing scarcity of certain foods in the face of rising world population. Some experts claim that the demand for food has already exceeded the supply. These conditions invite predictions of serious food shortages for our island at the same time that profits from our food expenditures are going to off-island suppliers rather than strengthening our local economy.

On the average the entire State only produces somewhere between 4.4 to 5.8 percent of our food supply. Specialists at the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agricultural have pointed out that if we doubled our production of local food we would be avoiding $120 million in imports and creating more than 3,000 jobs. Farm related business income would increase, they predict, by about $64 million, and of course, other economic benefits would occur.  Similar estimates regarding the benefits of increasing local food production have been suggested by Governor Lingle and also by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. > Business > Kauai Business > Path to sustainability

Recent ‘Awa (Kava Kava) Harvest

Uaka Kava of Hilo Hawaii have recently restocked ‘Awa (Kava Kava) powder they make from the dried fresh root of the Mahakea variety grown on the Big Island. This powder is for sale on their website:

There still continues to be a shortage of fresh root due to the disruption in planting caused by BfArM (German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) erroneously linking fresh ‘Awa root to liver damage in 2001. This was subsequently disproved by UH Scientists:

A team of University of Hawai’i scientists may have solved the mystery of why some Europeans who used products containing kava extract suffered severe liver damage, prompting a number of nations to ban sales of the herbal supplement.
Read Complete Honolulu Advertiser article . . .

There have actually been reports of health benefits from using ‘Awa root:
American Association for Cancer Research
Fiji Times

When the supply is normal Uka Kava makes dried fresh root powder processed from these varieties:Uka Kava
‘Awa Hanakapi ‘ai
‘Awa Hiwa
‘Awa Honokane Iki
‘Awa Kumakua
‘Awa Mahakea
‘Awa Mapulehu
‘Awa Pana’ewa
‘Awa Mo’i
‘Awa Nene
‘Awa ‘Opihikao
‘Awa Papa ‘Ele’ele
‘Awa Papa Kea
‘Awa Papa’ Ele’ele Pu’upu’u

During fresh root shortages Uka Kava offers their “Hang Loose Instant Kawa” product which many people prefer anyway due to ease of preparation.

Uka Kava also has a Woodworking Division which produces bowls and other objects made from exotic local woods such as Koa, Milo, Pride of India (China berry), and Norfolk pine.

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness
How Prepared is Your Farming Operation?

Maui Extension Office
Monday, November 26, 2007
11 am ? 1:30 pm

Natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, wild fires, hurricanes, pests, and diseases, can cause excessive economic damage to agricultural production. In addition to crop damage, disasters can also affect farm buildings, machinery, animals, irrigation, family members and employees. Disasters along with marketing difficulties can lead to serious downturns in your farm income.

How prepared are you? This workshop is designed to provide you with information on:
1) preparing your operation for a natural disaster and
2) available and affordable crop insurance programs that minimize risk associated with economic losses.
Note: Now that the “Adjusted Gross Revenue” (AGR) insurance is available for 2008, in effect all Hawaii crops can be insured to some degree ? not just bananas, coffee, papayas, macnuts & nursery.

? USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers and oversees farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster and loan programs. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of the agricultural industry and to help farmers adjust production to meet demand.

? USDA Risk Management Agency Western Regional Office, Davis. USDA RMA helps producers manage their business risks through effective, market-based risk management solutions.

? John Nelson from the Western Center for Risk Management Education (Washington State University) on the new Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) Insurance.

? Dr. Mike Fanning, Executive Vice President, AgriLogic, is a specialist in Agri-Terroism, crop insurance, farm policy analysis, and individual farm risk management.

? Dr. Kent Fleming, an agricultural economist with the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), is an Extension Farm Management Specialist with a focus on risk management education.

The workshop is FREE and lunch (sandwiches or bentos and drinks) will be provided. For more information, visit the website You may also contact Kent Fleming @ 989-3416 or or Jan McEwen @ 244-3242 or

Please call the Maui Extension Office at 244-3242 by November 21, 2007 to register for this seminar.

Decisions made with sustainability in mind

The Hot Seat
The Honolulu Advertiser

From politicians to newsmakers to everyday people in the news ? Editorial and Opinion Editor Jeanne Mariani-Belding puts them in the Hot Seat, and lets you ask the questions. So get ready. Let the conversation begin.
Reach Jeanne at

Posted on: July 30, 2007 at 12:02:58 pm

Now on the Hot Seat: Maui Land & Pineapple Co.?s CEO David Cole

Welcome to The Hot Seat! Joining me today is Maui Land & Pineapple Co.?s chairman, president and CEO David Cole.

The closure Maui Land and Pineapple?s canning operation in June marked the end of an era; it was the last canning operation of its kind in the United States. And, as David notes in his commentary in Sunday?s Advertiser, it was also a rite a passage for so many of us here in Hawaii.

David joins us live and will take your questions on his company and the future of agriculture in Hawaii.

With that, let?s chat.

[first question]

Christopher: Can you please explain why Maui Land and Pineapple continues to be a member of the LURF Foundation? Maui Land and Pineapple purports to hold the values of “malama ‘aina, ecology and creating holistic communities.”

With these guiding principles, I have difficulty seeing the association with LURF, which has quietly lobbied against most of the grassroots sustainability issues that have ever come up.

Perhaps with your company’s leadership, you could take LURF in a more modern 21st-century direction?

David Cole: The Land Use Research Foundation has been around since the late ’70s. In recent years, LURF’s focus has become more development-related, although the organization also works with other organizations, such as the Urban Land Institute, Hawai’i Economic Association and the Hawai’i Farm Bureau Federation. One of the goals of LURF is to protect the rights of landowners who are also developers.

As we understand it, LURF has not lobbied, quietly or otherwise, against sustainability issues. In fact, LURF Executive Director David Arakawa has taken a position that is very supportive of sustainability initiatives.

If this not the case, perhaps we should be more engaged in a leadership mode and concentrate more effort another organization?

[last question]

IslandBiz: Aloha, David. I want to say thanks for doing the Hot Seat and talking story with us. I read the article on you recently in Hawaii Business.

Tell us one thing about you that has not been written about that might be surprising, something that would give insight into what kind of a guy you are. Make it a good one!

David Cole: Greetings Islandbiz. My campaign poster for VP of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii (ASUH) back in the 70’s showed me naked on horseback with the slogan “nothing to hide.”

There you have it!!

CLICK HERE to view the full “Hot Seat” conversation

Methods to clean up contaminated soil: Heptachlor Part 3

Molokai Times
By Alexandra Charles

poison on MolokaiTo restore Molokai’s contaminated soil, University of Hawaii researchers Alton Arakaki and Qing Li, as well as retired Molokai farmer Lonnie Williams, are rooting for a technique called phytoremediation, which consists of growing plants that can naturally accumulate chemicals from soil.

Barbara Zeeb, associate professor of biotechnologies and the environment at the Royal Military College of Canada, said that phytoremediation is “a treatment that shows promise as a safe and cost-effective remediation technology.”

For the past three years, Alton Arakaki, Assistant Extension Agent for the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaii, has been involved in a phytoremediation research project on Molokai that is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Arakaki is testing seven different squash species to determine their effectiveness in extracting heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide from soil. He plans on completing a report of the results by next March.

Many hope phytoremediation will be the answer for acres upon acres of ex-pineapple fields that were contaminated by heptachlor when it was used to kills pests on crops. Such an agricultural practice was commonplace before the Environmental Protection Agency classified heptachlor as a probable carcinogen and before the chemical was banned in the U.S. in 1988.

“Heptachlor is very good at killing insects, which is why it was used so widely,” said Jason White, agricultural scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “It wasn’t known at the time that it is so persistent and that you find residues of the chemical still around even years after it was banned.”

Click to read complet article

Copyright 2007 Molokai Times

Biofuels News

May 21, 2007
Hawaii: a return to the land, for fuel
By Matt Villano
LAHAINA, Hawaii – Here on the West Side of Maui, where lush mountainsides and the warm waters of the Alalakeiki Channel juxtapose increasingly crowded roadways and a spate of new luxury hotels, the push for renewable energy has found an unlikely advocate: the chief executive of one of the most aggressive developers on the island.
The real estate maven, David Cole, has used his position as head of Maui Land and Pineapple, a land holding and operating company, to promote sustainable development. The effort harks back to Hawaii?s past, with plans to return some farmland to production ? this time for energy rather than food ? after so many years in which the state turned its back on its agricultural history in a headlong rush into tourism and real estate.

Perhaps the most notable effort is Hawaii BioEnergy, an international consortium that includes two other local landowners, Tarpon Investimentos, an investment company in Bermuda, and Brasil Bioenergia, an energy company in S?o Paulo.

The consortium, which also involves the co-founder of America Online, Stephen M. Case, and the venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, took form last July with the goal to make Hawaii, which has long had to pay high prices for imported fuel, largely energy-independent.

?As islanders, we?ve had to provide for our own survival for hundreds and hundreds of years,? said Mr. Cole, 55, who was raised on Oahu but spent most of his adult life on the mainland before coming to Maui in 2003.

?Now that the technology exists to turn some of our natural resources into energy, there?s no reason we should be getting energy from anywhere else,? he said.

While companies on the mainland are subsidized to produce ethanol from corn, Hawaiian companies and Hawaii BioEnergy are turning to other materials, particularly sugar cane, which are potentially far more efficient sources of ethanol per input of energy and raw material than corn.

Statistics from the Department of Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington and evidence from Brazil?s experience indicate that ethanol from sugar cane is considerably cheaper to produce than ethanol from corn, a savings that potentially could trickle down to consumers in the form of lower energy bills.

Even without these numbers, the business case for investing in alternative energy in Hawaii is compelling. The Hawaiian archipelago relies on imported oil for nearly 90 percent of its energy needs, making it one of the most expensive places in the nation to buy gasoline and pay for electricity and heat.

In May 2006, Hawaii passed a bill requiring that 20 percent of all highway fuel demand by 2020 must be provided by renewable fuels like ethanol, biodiesel or hydrogen. Another bill under consideration in the State Legislature would allow biofuel processing centers to be permitted in agriculture districts and would develop a baseline percentage of energy feedstock to be grown in the state.

Charmaine Tavares, mayor of Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe, said the goals were ?admirable,? but noted that more immediate changes were necessary as well.

?Every time we pay our energy bills, we?re all aware of the need for renewable energy,? Ms. Tavares said. ?The year 2020 just seems pretty far away.?

Mr. Cole, whose company is one of the largest landowners on Maui, agreed. Last summer, after an eye-opening trip to Brazil, he took matters into his own hands.

With the help of Mr. Case, whom he met during a stint at America Online in the 1990s, Mr. Cole signed up Hawaiian landowners like Kamehameha Schools, an independent school system and the largest landowner in the state, and the Grove Farm Company, a 22,000-acre sugar cane plantation in eastern Kauai that is owned by Mr. Case.

The pair also enlisted help from companies overseas, and recruited Mr. Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems in 1982 who has become one of the biggest backers of renewable energy in the world. Hawaii BioEnergy was born.

Since then, these founding partners and Maui Land and Pineapple have invested nearly $1 million in cash and put a number of full-time employees to work running the business. They expect other investors to help raise an additional $50 million to $80 million to get the operation off the ground.

?When you consider the tropical weather and all the sun Hawaii gets, it is a perfect place to prove that fuels made from biomass can be cost-competitive,? Mr. Khosla said of the project.

Still, the real heart of this consortium is land. The three landowners own about 10 percent of the arable soil in the state: 450,000 acres in all.

Though most of this soil is fallow today, Mr. Case wrote in a recent e-mail exchange that the partners plan to combine contiguous parcels, coordinate planting, harvesting and processing operations, and maximize economies of scale.

?These efforts are not without risk, but anything important has risks,? he wrote of the Hawaii BioEnergy plan. ?Hawaii?s first act was agriculture, and the second act was tourism. Now it is time for the third act, Hawaii 3.0.?

By some accounts, this new era is already under way. From a conference room at the understated Maui Land and Pineapple headquarters in Kahalui, Mr. Cole recently reviewed a new Hawaii BioEnergy feasibility study for producing ethanol from sugar cane on Maui, noting that the consortium could begin plant construction as soon as 2010.

Ultimately, he said, the plant would produce 27 million to 28 million gallons of ethanol a year, and would use the fuel to defray its own energy costs and to sell elsewhere in the state. He added that the group has explored other potential sources for ethanol, including soybeans, switch grass and a type of elephant grass called miscanthus.

Mr. Cole noted that the consortium also looked into producing ethanol from potential ?co-products? of the fuel-making process, including electricity from bagasse (the residue produced after crushing sugar cane), biodiesel from algae nourished by carbon dioxide off-take in the distillation process and animal feeds from the residual algae stream. All together, burning this additional ethanol could add another 25 to 30 megawatts of sustainable power capacity, Mr. Cole said.

?Part of our conception is that we get the most out of the project by making all waste streams into food streams for something else,? Mr. Cole explained. ?Before we invest in a particular technology, we want to be sure we?re investing in the technology that will give us the biggest and broadest return.?

To be sure, Hawaii BioEnergy is not the only partnership interested in renewable energy; elsewhere, the state?s two remaining sugar cane companies are exploring renewable energy efforts of their own.

On Kauai, for example, the cane producer Gay & Robinson recently received a state permit to build a $36 million ethanol plant in the town of Pakala as part of a joint venture with a local energy company. The other concern, the Maui-based Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar, is also investigating renewable fuels.

Because these companies currently combine to harvest 270,000 tons of sugar cane each year, they may be closer to actually producing renewable energy than Hawaii BioEnergy is. Alan Kennett, president and general manager of Gay & Robinson, suggested that his company could begin ethanol production as early as next year.

David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agricultural sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., said the fact that there would soon be various options for renewable energy in Hawaii was a step in the right direction.

?Any investment in renewable energy is a good investment,? he said. ?Beyond that, Hawaii should be practicing general conservation with smaller cars, less air-conditioning and decreased consumption over all.?

If anybody understands the need for conservation in Hawaii, Mr. Cole does. A stocky man with a graying goatee, he grew up in Kailua, a suburb of Honolulu, hiking through tropical forests and hanging out on beaches with friends. His first job on the island was delivering copies of The Honolulu Advertiser. He attended the University of Hawaii as an undergraduate.

Mr. Cole left Maui for law school on the mainland in the 1970s. Though he spent almost 30 years there before returning to head Maui Land and Pineapple in 2003, his love for the local environment still runs deep; he regularly rhapsodizes about the beauty of dawn, the sweet sounds of birds and the annual migration of humpback whales.

He also serves as chairman of the Hawaii Nature Conservancy.

Mr. Cole has extended these pro-environment ideals to many of his business decisions. This year, when construction crews dismantled the former Kapalua Bay Hotel, which is owned by a subsidiary of Maui Land and Pineapple, Mr. Cole required them to reuse 97 percent of the material in the company?s new offices.

Instead of recycling, he called the process ?upcycling,? and noted that his desk was a door in its former life.

Planning the next development ? an upscale neighborhood on the slopes of Mount Haleakala called Haliimaile (pronounced hah-lee-ee-my-lee) ? Mr. Cole has commissioned architects to design the enclave to minimize vehicle use, create a natural water filtration system, and incorporate solar and wind energy so residents generate more power than they consume.

Though the neighborhood is still in the permitting process and probably years away, Mr. Cole said he hoped this kind of forward thinking, together with the efforts of Hawaii BioEnergy, would eventually inspire outsiders to look to Hawaii for ideas about responsible and sustainable development.

?The whole world is looking for models,? he said. ?Years from now, when people think about renewable energy, I want them to look here and say, ?If it worked for Hawaii, it can work for us.? ?

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Source: New York Times

University of Hawaii-Hilo is offering an experiential class

Sustainable Tropical Agriculture 294

June 12th-July 19th, 2007 University of Hawaii-Hilo is offering an experiential class this summer in diversified, organic, holistic agricultural practices with local experts Nancy Redfeather, Tracy Matfin, Craig Elevitch, Melanie & Colehour Bondera, Mike Brown, Geoff Rauch & more! The focus will be on practical solutions in organic farming with plenty of hands-on group projects and several field trips to working farms.

Topics to include: Bamboo Production/Marketing, Seed Saving, Growing Traditional Hawaiian Crops, Animal Husbandry, Organic Food Production, Soil Health/Compost/Compost Tea, Agroforestry/Diversity, Multiple Yealds/Niche Products, Myths of Industrial Agriculture, & Permaculture Principles & Techniques.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-12noon June 12-July 19th, 2007

For information call Sarah Sullivan, 808-756-1269
UH admissions office: 808-974-7414

Join us for this hands-on course at UHH Panaewa Farm!

Warming signs seen stressing state’s growth

UH Ag dean says many faculty recruits feel Hawaii has exceeded its carrying capacity
By Helen Altonn
Hawaii will be “the canary” that alerts the rest of the world to the damaging effects of climate changes, says Andrew Hashimoto, dean and director of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

“If not the canary, it will be one of the canaries,” he said in a recent interview, referring to canaries used in the early days of mining to detect dangerous gases.

Hawaii is most susceptible to rising seas and other effects of global warming because it is a remote island state, Hashimoto said.

Read the entire article

Copyright ? 2007 All rights reserved.