KS / State DLNR / U.S. Fish & Wildlife pact to protect 32 endangered species on HI island

Jun. 22, 2018

Contributed by Crystal Kua

The State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kamehameha Schools signed a historic agreement today to promote the recovery of 32 federally-endangered species and one threatened species on Hawaiʻi island.

“This Safe Harbor Agreement encourages landowners to improve their habitat and restore their forests for endangered species to flourish,” said Gov. David Ige. “It establishes a baseline for existing levels of endangered species, allowing landowners to adopt more environmentally friendly land management practices without penalizing them if endangered species move into the area. I thank Kamehameha Schools for leading the way for Hawai‘i landowners to restore native landscapes.”

This agreement, along with the associated Enhancement of Survival Permit and Incidental Take License is the largest of its kind with a single landowner in the nation. It covers 32,207 acres of land owned by Kamehameha Schools across Keauhou and Kīlauea forest lands on the southeastern slopes of Mauna Loa.

“This strengthens Kamehameha Schools’ ability to steward these lands in a manner that fosters healthy habitats for species fighting to survive,” said KS CEO Jack Wong. “As we work toward a thriving lāhui, the cultural connection to ‘āina that is healthy and vibrant becomes much more important for Native Hawaiians and all the people of our state.”

Kamehameha Schools Ecologist Nāmaka Whitehead said that Hawaiians are Hawaiians because of the ‘āina. “Healthy, functioning native ecosystems are the foundation of Hawaiian cultural identity and well-being. Stewarding our ʻāina to be more resilient ensures that future generations will continue to have a relationship with the native species and ecological processes that make us who we are.  I Hawaiʻi no nā Hawaiʻi i ka ʻāina.  Our ʻāina, Hawaiʻi, is what makes us Hawaiian.”

Read the complete press release on the pact here.