- Venue: 20 Cooper Square, 3rd floor, Room 372
20 Cooper Square, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10003 United States
- Website: View Venue Website
Accessibility note: This venue has an elevator and is accessible for wheelchair users. There are single-stall, all gender restrooms available. If you have any access needs, please include them below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Settler Sustainability and “Self-Propagating” Nonnative Forests
This paper examines the idea that introduced nonnative plants were needed to meet the demands of Hawaiʻi’s advancing society during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Believing that deforestation was contributing to watershed depletion, the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association (HSPA) sought to sustain their freshwater supplies by embarking on a massive reforestation project in which they experimentally planted millions of nonnative tree seedlings throughout Hawaiian watersheds. This paper juxtaposes colonial ecological knowledge production about the relative adaptability and resilience of native and nonnative trees in Hawaiʻi with colonial discourse about native and nonnative peoples in Hawaiʻi. I track how HSPA scientists came to believe that “mixed blood” forests of nonnative trees were better suited to reforestation than native trees. This conclusion seemingly relied on the assumption that tree species were interchangeable with each other as long as they performed the same ecosystem function; thus the HSPA sought to replace koa and ʻōhiʻa forests with nonnative trees such as strangler figs. Disagreements between HSPA scientists and territorial Bureau of Agriculture and Forestry officials about the utility of the strangler fig reveal that reforestation was far from a seamless process.