Protecting Native Hawaiian Species

By Maura O'Connor
Wednesday - November 24, 2010 Share

By Maura O’Connor, President
Conservation Council for Hawaii

When you see a perfect match, like that of the ‘i’iwi’s bill and the curved flower of the ‘oha wai, it’s clear that they were made for each other. But when the complex fabric of the Hawaiian forest began to unravel due to the introduction of foreign species - that then invade and take over native habitats - and the clearing of native forests for other uses, the relationship of these native forest dwellers came apart too. The ‘oha wai became so rare, the birds no longer recognized the flowers as a source of food. In turn, the few remaining plants were not being pollinated. Soon, both species’ numbers had declined to the point that they were thought close to extinction.

In the 1980s and ‘90s, the Conservation Council for Hawaii took legal action to protect hundreds of imperiled native Hawaiian plant species, including the ‘oha wai. Since then, hundreds of ‘oha wai have been planted at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on Hawaii island, and in 2008 wildlife photographer Jack Jeffrey saw an ‘i’iwi feed on the blossom for the first time in more than 100 years.

Thee billl off thee nativee ‘i’iwii iss aa perfectt fit forr thee ‘ohaa waii blossom

This year the Conservation Council for Hawaii (CCH) celebrates 60 years of carrying out its mission to protect native Hawaiian plants, animals and ecosystems for future generations. Since its inception in 1950, CCH has been a strong voice for wildlife. Our educational and advocacy programs are based on careful scientific research, public education, grass-roots organizing, advocacy and service.

CCH support comes from grants and dues from more than 5,500 members and supporters who are united by aloha for Hawaiian wildlife and determination to protect the environment for the benefit of the people, the culture and the economy. As the Hawaii state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, CCH also is involved in national issues affecting Hawaii, and has a voice on Capitol Hill.

To learn about volunteer opportunities and ways to become involved, please visit the CCH website: Join us in speaking up for native species like the ‘i’iwi and ‘oha wai, and celebrating the beauty and diversity of Hawaii’s wildlife and wild places.

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