Burning Mangrove at Alakoko

If you see something burning down at the fishpond – it’s us! We are starting to do controlled burning of select mangrove piles in select areas. Burning mangrove is a standard method used in mangrove removal and is covered by Department of Health Clean Air Branch Approval (letter).  We are in contact with the Kauai Fire Department before starting to burn each day. Burn hours are between 9am and 6pm.

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding this burning activity. If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed, please email info@malamahuleia.org or call (808) 652-5210:

Q. Why are you burning mangrove waste?

Once mangrove is cut, it has to be removed from the wetland/pond area for regulatory reasons. Malama Hule`ia has determined that burning is the most appropriate means of disposal for small amounts of mangrove biomass at specific isolated locations. This decision was reached after extensive research that included reviewing options such as land-filling, burial in wet sediment at the site (creating peatlands), composting, mulching and delivery to a biomass-to-energy facility.

Q. What factors did you consider?

Please see our research paper titled “Fate of carbon and greenhouse impacts in a mangrove-infested wetland”. We are using a combination of mulch/composting and burning. We selected the most appropriate action for specific areas based on a number of factors, including access, greenhouse gas emissions, impacts on important historical sites, time and other environmental factors. 

Q. What are the characteristics of burn sites?

These isolated piles of wood are distant from suitable removal sites, inaccessible to heavy equipment or raise the risk of fuel, hydraulic oil and lubricating oil spills. Furthermore, the piles are near a historically significant archaeological feature (the 600-year-old Alakoko Fishpond wall) and extensive traffic could negatively impact the feature. Burning appears to present the least likelihood of damage to the site.

Q. What will be done with the ash? 

Ash from the burned mangrove will be collected and mixed into mulch and compost at a location away from the pond and pond wall.

Q. What other methods are being used?

We are grinding and mulching most of the woody material after cutting mangrove and removing it from the pond/wetland area. Burning is being deployed only in specific small areas where hauling the material is not feasible.

Q. Do you have permits for burning?

We have a permit from the State Department of Health Clean Air Branch, which allows us to burn between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. See approval letter here.

Q. Is the Fire Department aware of this activity and what about smoke?

The Fire Department will be notified each day burning is scheduled to take place. Burning will only be done on days when smoke is unlikely to affect neighbors. The burning will be conducted to promote high heat and to minimize smoke production.

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