Retired Hawaiian Physician Donates Big Island Forestland to Nature Conservancy
37-acre South Kona Property Has Never Been Cleared or Grazed
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Retired Hawaiian physician Dr. Charman J. Akina has donated to The Nature Conservancy 37 acres of native forested land in South Kona that has never been cleared or grazed.
The parcel is near the Conservancy’s 8,081-acre Kona Hema Preserve and the state’s South Kona Forest Reserve. It contains diverse native plants and wildlife. The Conservancy will manage the property as part of its Kona Hema Preserve.
Dr. Akina also plans to donate a second parcel of 135 acres, which contains the Conservancy’s legal access to its Kona Hema properties, and which will make the 37-acre parcel contiguous to Kona Hema Preserve and the South Kona Forest Reserve.
“The property is fenced to exclude cattle and has never been bulldozed or used for grazing, which is highly unusual for a privately held, agriculture-zoned parcel in the South Kona area,” said Jody Kaulukukui, the Conservancy’s director of Land Protection.
Dr. Akina first became interested in the two parcels in the early 1970s when the land was being sub-divided for development. “I went down there and found this property that had beautiful trees on it,” he said. “When I found out it would be sold for development, I stepped in and later bought it. I wanted to save it from the bulldozer.”
After The Nature Conservancy acquired 4,000 acres next door at Honomalino in 1999—the first of three adjoining parcels that make up its Kona Hema Preserve—Akina decided to donate the land to conservation.
“It was a real natural,” he said. “The land was never grazed or cleared. The original growth is still there. You can still see what the original forest was like.”
The land is native forest that is dry with seasonal moderate moisture, and contains pockets of native vegetation but also invasive weeds and feral pigs.
Native birds in the area include the ʻiʻiwi, ʻapapane, ʻelepaio and ʻamakihi. Surveys have also located native lacewings and Kamehameha butterflies. The National Audubon Society rates Kona forests as A-1 Globally Significant Important Bird Areas.
“The primary conservation objective is to provide a buffer to the Conservancy’s existing Kona Hema Preserve, to protect rare and endangered plants, and to provide additional habitat for forest bird species found in the area,” Kaulukukui said.
Akina, 81, is a graduate of Punahou School and Stanford University. He worked for more than 30 years at the Honolulu Medical Group, specializing in internal medicine, before serving the native Hawaiian community for 12 years at the Waimanalo Health Center.
He now divides his time between homes in Honolulu and the Hilo area of the Big Island.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.