What is an ahupua'a?
The ahupua'a in old Hawai'i was the common way of dividing land between the chiefs, from the mountains to the sea. The word ahupu'a is from the Hawaiian word "ahu", meaning "heap", and "pua", meaning pig. The boundary markers used for ahupua'as were traditional heaps of stones used to put offers to the island chief, which was usually a pig. From this kind of land division, Hawaiians were able to travel at ease, as it was easier to travel up and downstream instead of going from valley to valley. Ahupua'a also sustained the Hawaiians for many years, as every land division was self-sufficient for basic needs.
The Importance of Watersheds
A watershed is an area of land that drains rain water or snow into another body of water, such as streams, lakes, or wetlands, and are very similar to the idea of ahupua'as. These bodies of water supply us with drinking water, water for farming and daily households needs. Thus, it is necessary to understand the state of our watersheds, as pollution, runoff, and erosion can interfere with the health of our water. What everyone does to our water not just affects humans, but also plants and animals. Human impact is highly significant in the health of watersheds, however. The creation of hard surfaces, namely roads and buildings, make it easier to chemicals and toxic waste on the ground to make it into water via rainfall. If forests were in the place of these hard surfaced areas, the plant cover takes in the moisture and filters water, and is released slowly into the stream instead of dirty water running rapidly into it.
Every day, we as humans are making choices that positively and negatively affect our environment as a whole. Water is one of the most heavily impacted aspects of our environment, which is lethal as less than 2% of the world's water is freshwater, and 30% of that is unaccessible. Almost all of the water that is our water supply comes from streams, rivers, and lakes. Things such as industrial growth and littering have swayed the health of these bodies of water, the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed a sad example of that.