FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kelly McHugh | (808) 243-5886
Kaho’olawe Seeks Partners to Implement Cultural and Environmental Restoration Plan
On Friday, June 17, 2016, Hawai’i State Governor David Ige signed a bill appropriating funds to the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) for restoration and preservation projects on Kaho’olawe – the first ever direct appropriation of general funds to the agency since it was established by the State in 1993.
This support of Kaho’olawe promises unprecedented preservation and recovery opportunities for Native Hawaiian wildlife species which help sustain traditional Native Hawaiian cultural practices. Currently, invasive species are destroying the island’s native plant and animal populations and preventing access to needed for Native Hawaiian cultural practices within the Reserve.
Through a joint effort led by restoration partners KIRC and Island Conservation, a new plan to provide a permanent home for many of Hawaiʻi’s threatened species and to re-establish links between nature and traditional Hawaiian customs is being developed.
As a state-mandated reserve that sees far less human disturbance, development, and light pollution than the other main Hawaiian Islands, conservation biologists rank Kahoʻolawe as a top site for reintroduction and restoration of rare birds such as the Laysan Duck, Nēnē (Hawaiian Goose), Laysan Finch, and Nihoa Finch. Fortunately, the island’s damaging invasive predators are restricted to introduced rats and feral cats, (fewer than found elsewhere in Hawaiʻi, like mongoose and wild boar). Future reintroduction efforts depend on an island free of introduced predators.
“The Hawaiian archipelago accounts for only two-tenths of one percent of the United States’ land area but it is home to nearly 75 percent of recorded extinctions in the US. Invasive species are the leading cause of these extinctions,” said Brad Keitt, director of conservation at Island Conservation. “Kahoʻolawe presents an incredible opportunity to save Hawaiian plants,animals, and cultural connections that could otherwise be lost forever. However, the only way we can accomplish this is through the removal of invasive species.”
“This unprecedented restoration vision is matched by a unique conservation partnership being developed for a healthy and restored Kahoʻolawe,” says KIRC public information specialist Kelly McHugh, “Investment by the State exhibits public support of our work to restore, protect, and preserve this important cultural reserve. Together, our local, state, and national coalition have the capacity to advance a predator-free Kaho’olawe Island Reserve for the benefit of recovering native Hawaiian species and to aid in the revitalization of Hawaiian cultural practices.”