The Hawaiʻi Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology (HISCB) organized “Restoring the Mind & Body Through Aloha ʻĀina,” a series of four volunteer workdays from March through May 2021. Forty-six volunteers worked to make improvements to the local wetland and coastal areas and were given the opportunity to restore mental well-being through the natural environment, connect with like-minded individuals, and learn to identify native and invasive species.

The volunteer activities, which included removing invasive plants, out-planting native species, and mulching, benefited two local community-based conservation organizations, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi and Mālama Loko Ea. Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi focuses on restoring agricultural and ecological productivity to wetlands on the island of Oʻahu and promoting the social and economic advancement of the local community. Mālama Loko Ea focuses on the restoration of Loko Ea, a 400-year-old loko i’a (fishpond) in Hale’iwa, Hawai’i.

To learn more about the Hawai’i Chapter and get involved with upcoming events, visit their website and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. To find a chapter near you or learn about starting your own chapter, visit the North America Chapters website.

The webinar recording for the fifth in the 2021 SCBNA Student Affairs Webinar Series is now available on the SCB North America YouTube Page. Incorporating social science into practice and research is vital for improving conservation outcomes. In the fifth installment of the SCBNA 2021 Student Affairs Webinar Series, panelists discussed the intersection of conservation and social science. We are grateful to the following panelists for sharing their research and experiences with us in this webinar: Dr. Arundhati Jagadish, Social Scientist at Conservation International, and Dr. Meredith Gore, Conservation Social Scientist at the University of Maryland.

This was the final webinar before a summer break in the series. Many thanks to the Student Affairs Subcommittee for organizing this wonderful webinar series. All of the recordings in the series are up on the SCB North America YouTube page.

Planning is underway for a fall webinar on Equity and Inclusion in Conservation and Research – stay tuned for more information over the summer!

Members of the policy committee of the Hawai’i Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology (HISCB) have submitted a policy statement on behalf of HISCB and the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania section regarding the listing of at-risk Hawaiian terrestrial flora and fauna species under the State Endangered Species Statute, HRS 195D, to prevent further decline or extinction.

Despite its relatively small landmass (less than 0.2% of total US landmass), Hawai’i has been called the endangered species capital of the world; it is home to more than 500 of the 1,600 species listed as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, Hawai’i receives only 8-10% of federal funding appropriated for the recovery of endangered or threatened species. Furthermore, the federal Endangered Species Act has been weakened by recent amendments and revisions made during the Trump Administration. With decreased protections for vulnerable species at the federal level, HISCB asserts that now is the time for state governments to strengthen their protections. 

Hawai’i has its own endangered species list under the State Endangered Species Statute, HRS 195D, to which any federally listed endangered or threatened species are automatically added. While many states add additional species to their own lists, Hawai’i has added only two species beyond those federally listed. According to nationally- or internationally-based conservation organizations, as of April 2020 there are over 600 additional Hawaiian species that are not listed but are considered endangered or imperiled. Listing species at highest risk under the State ESA, HRS 195D, would raise the profile of these overlooked species and promote their protection.

In its policy statement, HISCB has proposed three clear priorities that can be viewed as first steps to enhance the protection of Hawaiʻi’s unique biodiversity:

  1. Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the State agency that is charged with overseeing the State Endangered Species List, initiates the State listing process for at-risk Hawaiian flora and fauna species under the State Endangered Species Statute, HRS 195D, to prevent further decline or extinction,
  2. DLNR convenes workshops and other collaborative activities with relevant biologists to further evaluate the classifications of NatureServe and IUCN or other relevant analyses of Hawaiʻi species and consider them for state listing, and 
  3. Identify and engage interested individuals and organizations to petition the State for species’ listings in lieu of action by DLNR through the described process above.

Read the full statement here.