Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's hot...and Vetiver's cool.

Vetiver Systems Hawaii just completed its first exhibition at Pacific Expos' 32nd Annual Home and Garden Expo at Honolulu's Blaisdell Exhibition Hall this weekend. Largely an educational opportunity, I was struck by the number of people who desperately need effective slope stabilization that won't leave them penniless. Vetiver was warmly received, and I look forward to visiting those who'd like to explore Vetiver's specific application to their sites.

We've barely reached the middle of June and the weather in Honolulu is sizzling. Oahu farmers are not immune to water shortages. Ever helpful, Dick Grimshaw sent along this link to a Thai paper addressing (and quantifying) Vetiver's ability to maintain moisture and recharge groundwater:
a hui hou,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Tale of Two Islands, one w/Vetiver, one w/o: Vanuatu and Molokai

This follows on the heels of 5/31/09 front page articles in Honolulu's two major newspapers, Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star Bulletin, addressing the suffocation of Molokai's reef. Unfortunately, both articles gave solutions short shrift, and cursorily presented fences as a solution. Appallingly absent was mention of the use of vegetative barriers to halt the flow of sediment to the ocean--a low-cost, highly effective, permanent solution to the problem.

How do we know this?

Because we can evaluate the results of a decade-long effort in Vanuatu, whose problems mirrored those of present-day Molokai. From 1995 to 2002, Don Miller, an experienced erosion expert, led a band of dedicated local volunteers armed with sacks of Vetiver slips into Vanuatu's southern gullies, where they systematically installed rows of plants into weathered volcanic tuff and breccia on grades of approximately 35degrees where no plantings had survived. When awash in heavy rains, the bare slopes were dumping high volumes of silt onto nearby coral reefs.

Although the erosion control project was closed down shortly after the installations (the government cited "lack of funds"), the good work had been done. Vetiver slips and indigenous plantings grew into semi-permeable hedges that filtered out sediment before it reached the island's coastal waters and the reef.

Today the Fisheries Department reports dramatically improved conditions on the reefs down current from areas that have been stabilized by established Vetiver hedges for several years. Large volumes of sediment have been retained and some areas now boast a nearly-complete cover of indigenous shrubs on previously infertile, bare, eroding land. Along with the reef, the shellfish industry has recovered, and ni-Vanuatuan fishermen are happy--and grateful.

Could this success story be repeated in Hawaii? Absolutely. Success requires completion of four steps: coordination by stakeholders (landlords and land-users), an installation plan, Vetiver plants, and installers. Whaddya say, eh?! Call me: 808-536-5444. I'll answer.

To see Don Miller's remarkable work on Vanuatu, visit and enter Vanuatu Vetiver to access Don's Picassa gallery.