Diverse landscapes and agricultural systems

The diversity of climates, biomes, and soils in Hawaii is as great as the communities, producers, and management practices that utilize the landscape there.  The possible combinations of all these factors are numerous, which presents a challenge when providing recommendations for best land use and management practices to optimize economic and environmental returns.  Nonetheless, an opportunity exists now to reconceive Hawaii’s agricultural systems as a critical part of achieving simultaneous state goals for carbon neutrality, 100% renewable energy, and increased local food production.

Building soil health and resilience into the landscape through diversified agricultural and managed systems is a critical climate action – one that will drawdown carbon from the atmosphere and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the land surface. How much climate change mitigation a system may bring varies, and recently a colleague asked our research group to study the soil carbon associated with bamboo.  The non-invasive, clumping bamboo varieties are beautiful and selected for building materials and landscape purposes.  But, do they also sequester carbon belowground? Last weekend, we crossed some of our diverse managed landscapes on Molokai in a tiny plane bound for Hana, Maui to make some measurements.

To be continued…

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