Protecting Hawaii’s birds a priority
The International Union for Conservation of Nature concluded its World Conservation Congress in Honolulu last week having set policy goals for global sustainability in the face of climate change and increasing populations.
It also created a number of small-scale resolutions, including one aimed specifically at protecting Hawaii’s bird species.
“Every conservationist who’s paid any attention to the United States whatsoever is aware that Hawaii is a focal area of extinction,” said Russ Mittermeier, executive vice chairman and former president of Conservation International, a co-introducer of the resolution.
Hawaii’s birds “represent a significant proportion of endangered birds in the U.S., and they don’t really get resources proportionate to that,” he said.
In 2014, Mittermeier said, Hawaii received about 4 percent of all government funding directed toward bird rescue.
“It’s an immediate need,” he said. “It’s not something that can wait five, 10 years.”
“A lot of us have been here … trying to find these birds for ourselves, and we’re not able to find the ones we expected to find,” said co-introducer Mike Parr, chief conservation officer for the American Bird Conservancy. “That was worrying, knowing the trends were downhill.”
Kauai is experiencing the most rapid downhill trends, he said. This is partially because the island’s birds are more prone to avian malaria. A paper published this month in Science Advances found that climate change had warmed Kauai to the point where mosquitoes could range throughout its mountains and bite birds who previously had been unaffected by the disease.
The resolution calls for expediting the “development of all appropriate techniques to control or eradicate invasive alien mosquitoes.”
“If we don’t deal with the mosquito problem soon, we’re going to see some extinctions,” Parr said.
IUCN resolutions serve as recommendations for future actions.
“It really depends how they’re used,” Mittermeier said. “We’re hoping to get attention from the governments and from (nongovernment organizations).”
The Honolulu WCC was the first to take place in the United States. It was also the most well-attended, with more than 10,000 people participating.
“It seems an appropriate time to draw attention to the crisis that’s going on right here,” Parr said.
“We’re right here in Hawaii and birds are going extinct right around us, and we need more attention to it. It’s not just losing a bird that people don’t necessarily always see themselves, but it’s something that’s part of the culture and the forest they live in.”
“There are lots of great people working here to save these birds and they just need more help,” he said.
Email Ivy Ashe at email@example.com.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.