Group seeks funds for preservation of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

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An ‘akiapola’au perches in a tree at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. (Photos courtesy of Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge)

A group dedicated to managing and preserving nearly 33,000 acres of native montane rainforest on the windward slopes of Maunakea, including the endangered birds that call it home, is asking the community for help. in its efforts by donating to the cause.

Friends of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge has set a goal of $200,000 for its fall 2022 endowment campaign.

An ‘i’iwi is pictured at the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

Hakalau Forest is home to 29 critically endangered species, including seven birds, one insect, one mammal, and 20 plants found nowhere else in the world. Strong staffing is essential to ensure that there is no disruption of funding for necessary management activities on the refuge.

Habitat restoration work is expensive and laborious, but must be continued until threats to the forest and the species residing there can be permanently eliminated. The many management needs, which often arise when least expected, have motivated the group of Friends to provide a steady stream of funding so that they can be responsive when needed and not have to rely on uncertain federal funds from year to year.

“We can ensure that our endangered birds have a future if we can build the resources necessary to help with the critical management that must be done to restore and maintain healthy habitat in the koa-ʻōhiʻa forests of Hakalau,” said JB Friday, a forester on the University of Hawaii professor and president of the Friends of the Hakalau Forest National Nature Reserve, said in a press release. “Although our long-term goal for the endowment is $3.5 million, we have raised over $800,000 in the first seven years of the endowment’s existence. This year’s campaign has the potential to bring the endowment to over $1 million. Although ambitious, we all believe this is possible thanks to the generous donations of our Friends members and many other interested parties who see the value in creating this fund.

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Recent models of climate change predict that the endangered birds of the refuge will soon face the same avian disease threats that have impacted these low-lying species. The need for funding has never been more urgent.

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The Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge has identified four key projects to support once the endowment reaches capacity to begin releasing funds:

  • Feral hog control to reduce mosquito larval habitats and thereby reduce the threat of avian malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Forest restoration efforts in areas adjacent to and above the refuge to increase areas of high-quality bird habitat at higher, mosquito-free elevations. The Friends will work in collaboration with other organizations such as the Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance for these projects.
  • Removal of all mosquito larval habitats identified by early warning detection systems. Further development of the early warning system for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Controlling rats, mongooses and other predators to improve bird survival and increase breeding.

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985 to conserve endangered plants and animals and the native ecosystems of which they are a part. Since its inception, the sanctuary has made great strides towards protecting endemic forest birds and other species by fencing off large areas and eliminating wild ungulates, controlling invasive plant species, and restoring native koa-forest. ōhiʻa on former ranch land.

Thousands of endemic plant species, including several endangered, have been planted in the understory and endangered forest birds such as ‘akiapola’au, ‘i’iwi and ‘alawī se settled in these recovering forests.

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To donate to the Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Fall 2022 Endowment Drive, click here. Those wishing to send a check should make the check payable to “Hawai’i Community Foundation: Hakalau Forest Endowment” and mail it to: Hawai’i Community Foundation, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

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