Book review: Restoring paradise: Rethinking and rebuilding nature in Hawaii

Pacific Conservation Biology



The native ecosystems of Hawai‘i have been severely degraded by the introduction of herbivorous mammals and a myriad of invasive plant species. Left unmanaged, most natural areas would continue along a trajectory towards domination by nonnative species; however, several projects have undertaken the daunting task of ecological restoration, four of which are the subject of Restoring Paradise by Robert Cabin: Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge; Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park; the Auwahi dryland forest, Maui and Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Kaua‘i. After an introductory section discussing the setting and factors that have contributed to so much of the degradation and extinction of Hawai‘i’s native biota, Cabin outlines two different views of restoration in two central sections of the book: ad hoc, trial-and-error approaches versus the careful application of science to direct restoration. The time-tested methods of fence construction, ungulate removal, weed control, and replanting native species with the help of numerous volunteers and community support are presented in marked contrast to inconsistent applications of science in guiding restoration, and illustrated by some of the author’s unsuccessful research. The book is largely presented as a non-technical first-person account of travels and meetings with key personalities driving restoration projects. The philosophies of restoration practitioners are embedded in passages from interviews. Setbacks, obstacles, logistical constraints, and successes are narrated in between as Cabin revisits each of the restoration sites. The utility of science in restoration is frequently questioned by the author and sometimes abandoned by practitioners in favour of a ‘let-nature-take-its-course’ approach.

Review info: Restoring Paradise: Rethinking and Rebuilding Nature in Hawaii. By Robert J. Cabin, 2013. ISBN: 978-0822836931, 236 pp.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Book review: Restoring paradise: Rethinking and rebuilding nature in Hawaii
Series title Pacific Conservation Biology
DOI 10.1071/PCv21n2_BR
Volume 21
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Surrey Beatty
Publisher location Chipping Norton, N.S.W.
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Title Pacific Conservation Biology
First page 168
Last page 171
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details