Climate Change
Invasive Species
Defending Wildlife
Connecting People with Nature

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate Change Goal: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and Hawai‘i by 80% in 2050

  • Pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change impacts to wildlife
  • Increase public awareness and actions by individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Climate change and associated global warming, sea level rise, increased storm intensities, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching threaten the entire world and will require cooperation among all people to prevent the worst impacts from happening.

The combined effects of melting ice and thermal expansion of seawater are causing sea level to rise. In our island home, rising seas are of particular concern; sea level is projected to rise 1 meter by the turn of the century.

Our focus in the climate change arena is to help ensure adequate funding to mitigate the impacts of climate change to wildlife and habitat. In Hawai‘i, we face a warming ocean and coral bleaching and increased CO2 and ocean acidification that harms corals.

Makai (toward the sea), with sea level rising, we will begin to lose pupping and resting habitat for endangered ‘īlioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal), nesting and resting habitat for the endangered honu ‘ea (hawksbill sea turtle), threatened honu (green sea turtle), and dozens of species of seabirds, such as the mōlī (Laysan albatross). Mauka (toward the mountains), warming temperatures will allow introduced mosquitoes carrying avian malaria and avian pox to breed at higher elevations, reaching native forest birds already on the brink of extinction. Even the unique wēkiu bug on the summit of Mauna Kea will be affected by climate change.

For more information: Global Warming and Hawai‘i (pdf)

INVASIVE SPECIES

Invasive Species Goal: Reduce the impacts of invasive species to native species and habitats in Hawai‘i

  • Prevent new invasive species from entering Hawai‘i and control invasive species already here
  • Change the paradigm for state “management” of introduced game mammals and public hunting.

Along with climate change, invasive species are the most serious threat to native Hawaiian species and ecosystems. Invasive species are plants and animals that were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by humans either intentionally for a purpose such as the pet or garden trade and ranching or accidentally by hitchhiking on imported potted plants or in the hull of ships. Once these species escape cultivation and become feral in the case of domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats gone wild, or naturalized in the case of introduced plants, they contribute to the loss of native Hawaiian species and ecosystems. They also threaten public health and safety, the economy, and the Native Hawaiian culture, which depends on native plants and animals to survive. Among the most serious invasive species in Hawai‘i are wild cattle, pigs, sheep, mouflon, goats and deer, which are managed by the State for public hunting; strawberry guava, which is literally taking over our native rain forests, and miconia – both of which were brought to the islands as ornamental plants; and introduced ants, which prey on seabird and other chicks.

DEFENDING WILDLIFE

Defending Wildlife Goal: Defend laws and programs that protect native species and habitats in Hawai‘i

  • Increase public and political support for species recovery actions and habitat restoration
  • Enforce the Endangered Species Act and other laws to protect native Hawaiian species and habitats

Conservation Council for Hawai‘i has been at the forefront of major campaigns to help recover imperiled Hawaiian plants and animals on the brink of extinction. We were lead plaintiff in three successful lawsuits under the federal Endangered Species Act to obtain the listing of over 250 Hawaiian plants and animals as threatened or endangered species and designation of their critical habitat for recovery. The national recognition of Hawai‘i’s extinction and endangered species crisis has resulted in significant increases in funding and staff to help these imperiled species.

We were one of the lead organizations on the E Ho‘omau! Campaign to perpetuate our cultural and natural heritage by securing permanent adequate funding for the State Natural Area Reserves System (NARS), a program to protect over 19 reserves around the state supporting rare and endangered Hawaiian plants and animals, cultural sites, and geologic features. The reserves are the State’s highest level of land protection, in theory, but in reality, the NARS had not received the funding required to control invasive species, replant rare and endangered species, and protect birds and other animals from predators. In 2005, the NARS was finally identified as a program to receive a portion of dedicated funding generated from land conveyance fees.

We filed court documents to protect pupping and resting habitat for the endangered ‘īlioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal), and joined efforts with others to step up recovery actions for this critically endangered marine mammal. We have recently stepped up our advocacy for the monk seal by offering rewards for the intentional killing of four seals in 2011 and 2012, and by supporting expanded critical habitat on the main Hawaiian islands, and by supporting full funding for recovery actions, such as the translocation of female pups to the main islands for 3 years to increase their long-term chances for survival.

We are raising awareness about the endangered palila bird on Mauna Kea, threatened by mouflon, feral sheep, and feral goats maintained in the critical habitat for public hunting in violation of three federal court orders. We are calling on investigations and audits of the rogue WESPAC (Western Pacific Fishery Management Council), which puts fisheries and entire marine ecosystems at risk by promoting large commercial fishing above all else. As part of our Manu Kai (Seabird) Campaign, we are raising awareness about Hawai‘i’s seabirds and the many threats they face, and calling attention to the military’s use of Ka‘ula Islet (southwest of Ni‘ihau and Kaua‘i) as a target for bombing and strafing. Ka’ula supports hundreds of nesting seabirds and sea turtles, and the Hawaiian monk seal. This high-elevation habitat must be managed for native species, especially given climate change, sea level rise, and the need for additional habitat for coastal and marine species.

CONNECTING PEOPLE WITH NATURE

Connecting People with Nature Goal: Connect Residents and visitors with native wildlife and wild places in Hawai‘i

  • Provide compelling educational materials to the general public and decision-makers
  • Organize field trips and service trips to introduce people to native species and habitats

All of the work we do at Conservation Council for Hawai‘i depends on the support and involvement of the public, including our members. We provide information and opportunities for people to experience wildlife and wild places in Hawai‘i for themselves and know what we are fighting so hard to preserve. We organize field trips and service trips for our members and supporters so that they have an opportunity to give back to the ‘āina (land). We started a plant restoration project on the Mānoa Cliff Trail above Honolulu, which is now run by the Hawai‘i Botanical Society. We are taking the lead in restoring the native vegetation and aquatic ecosystems at a fascinating 6-acre site at Kalaeloa (Barber’s Point), O‘ahu that contains geologic sinkholes and the bones of fascinating and extinct Hawaiian birds. The sinkhole preserve is the perfect classroom for teaching lessons about geology, ecology, ecosystem restoration, and species extinction.

Each year, we produce attractive newsletters, Kōkua (Help) Alerts, annual wildlife posters for the schools, and other materials to bring some of these species and habitats to your living room and classroom. The posters are distributed free of charge to every public, private, charter, and Native Hawaiian language school in Hawai‘i, community organizations, agencies, elected officials, and others on request. We administer the sales and distribution of the Hawai‘i Wildlife Guide and accompanying wildlife viewing signs to guide residents and visitors to appropriate wildlife viewing areas on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Lāna‘i, and Hawai‘i. We also provide information to educators, landowners, elected officials, and others on request, who want to plant native species on their land or learn about the native Hawaiian flora and fauna.