stewards of the land
Ahu Lani sits at the base of Mauna Kea and at the top of the Hamakua Coast along the Eastern coast of Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island). For a century plus, these lands were grazed by cattle and wild boar. Much of the surrounding area is still cattle land, but Ahu Lani sits amidst these pastures boasting a healthy native Hawaiian forest.
In the mid 1980's people began searching for property at higher elevations along the coast in search of peaceful privacy. Bob Mackura and his wife Gaile were the first stewards to this land in the late 80's.
The Housing Facility at Ahu Lani was built in 1995 by Bob Mackura and his son. The father son building team utilized the house as a storm break, creating the courtyard in the leigh of the prevailing weather. All of the house has a wrap around lanai deck for enjoying the comfortable Hawiian climate no matter the weather.
Bob, a self-described soul worker and since deceased, sold the property to John Lindelow and Roz Rapozo in 2002.
John and Roz are long-time conservationists and business people. In 1989 they co-founded the World Turtle Trust, a Hawaii-based non-profit organization dedicated to sea turtle conservation, with current focus on the Hawksbill turtles of the Big Island.
In 2009 John and Roz began the forestry program at Ahu Lani and subsequently planted the Koa and Ohia Forest that surrounds the Retreat center. Utilizing help from Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WOOFer) volunteers, the 24 acres of Ahu Lani is now fully fenced so that the Koa saplings can grow to full maturity.
In May of 2017 Garrett and Kaia Kababik along with Kaia's mother Patricia Zambryski purchased Ahu Lani from John and Roz. All three are dedicated to conserving the long standing tradition of forestry and land preservation.
Kaia is the Executive Director of Save the Mermaids, a California based nonprofit that works to educate children about human sourced ocean pollution. Garrett is the co-founder of Channel Islands Outfitters, a Santa Barbara based B Corp and outfitting company with a mission to help save the oceans. Together they have volunteered on many clean ups and watershed restoration projects along the Central Coast of California and at the Channel Islands National Park.
Patricia Zambryski is a University of California, Berkeley professor of microbiology and head of the biology department and world traveler.
As the stewards of the land change the vision remains; restore native forests to restore the native ecosystem.
"Today is the second-best time to plant a tree," says John Lindelow as we scout a spot for the koa seedling I'm going to plant. It's drizzling, as it often is here at three thousand feet above the Hamakua coast on Hawaii Island. John, his nephew Matthew and horticulturalist Dave DeEsch are dressed in windbreakers and boots as we walk the trails winding through the twenty four acres of young forest Lindelow calls Ahu Lani Sanctuary. My seedling will join the more than four thousand native trees and shrubs that have been planted here at the edge of Kalopa Gulch on Mauna Kea's northeastern slope. With care, in twenty years this native forest--decimated by cattle, pigs and invasive plants--will recover; that in turn will bring the rain, recharge the aquifer and provide habitat for wildlife.
"So when," I ask, "is the best time to plant a tree?"
"Twenty years ago," John replies.
From: "Teach a Person to Forest" HanaHou! Magazine, October-November 2016"
Ahu Lani's forestry efforts are focused on the growth of Koa and other native Hawaiian trees and understory plants. (Click here for more information on Koa.)
Ahu Lani is a participant in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a federal-state conservation program aimed at improving water and soil quality through the re-establishment of native forests on former pasture land. Ahu Lani converted 20 acres of marginal pasture land to native forest under CREP. See our CREP page for more info.
Ahu Lani also qualified to participate in the State of Hawaii's Forest Stewardship Program, which provides technical and cost-sharing financial assistance to land owners acting as forest stewards.On May 19, 2011, John Lindelow spoke at an assembly of Federal and State officials held at the Governor's office at the Hawaii State Capitol Building. The officials were gathered to "announce a partnership to strengthen cooperation and coordination to help Hawaii landowners and managers conserve forest lands" and John was there to speak from a landowner's perspective. The officials signed a new "Memorandum of Understanding" that will smooth the process of landowner participation in reforestation efforts.