Conservation Council for Hawai‘i Named NWF Affiliate of the Year

At its annual meeting in March, National Wildlife Federation honored Conservation Council for Hawai‘i (CCH) as its Affiliate of the Year. At the forefront of major campaigns to help recover imperiled Hawaiian plants and animals on the brink of extinction for more than 60 years, CCH has been NWF’s Hawai‘i state affiliate since 1971.

Conservation Council for Hawai'i
Courtesy of Conservation Council for Hawai’i

Advocating for Native Species

Guided by a dedicated board and led by a dynamic and deeply committed executive director, CCH has launched numerous campaigns over the years seeking to protect imperiled native species, including coral reef fishes, marine mammals such as the ilioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal) and kohola (humpback whale), seabirds such as the ‘a‘o (Newell’s shearwater) and ‘ua‘u (Hawaiian petrel), and forest birds such as the palila.

CCH served as the lead plaintiff in three successful lawsuits under the federal Endangered Species Act that not only led to the listing of more than 250 Hawaiian plants and animals as threatened or endangered but secured designation of critical habitat for dozens of these species. CCH was also one of the lead organizations on the E Ho‘omau! Campaign to preserve cultural and natural heritage by securing permanent adequate funding for the state’s Natural Area Reserves System. The system’s 20 reserves protect wildlife, cultural sites and geologic features. CCH is currently engaged in ongoing legal action to compel the State of Hawai‘i to prepare an environmental assessment or impact statement for issuing permits to collect fish and invertebrates for the aquarium trade.

Giving a Voice to the Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian monk seal in its native habitat by Vanderlip
CCH has been instrumental in leading statewide efforts to raise public awareness and support for recovery actions and designation of critical habitat in the Main Hawaiian Islands for the Hawaiian monk seal, one of the most critically endangered marine mammals in the United States. Part of this outreach includes joining with Native Hawaiian community and cultural leaders to convince fishermen that the seal is native to Hawaiian waters and is an integral part of Hawaiian history, culture and heritage. In partnership with NWF, CCH has also worked tirelessly to raise the national visibility of the seal and build a broad constituency that will fight for the federal funding necessary to ensure its recovery.

Connecting Kids and Nature

Each year since the 1970s, CCH has produced a wildlife poster that is distributed free to all public, private, charter and language immersion schools in the Aloha State. Recent versions have combined beautiful artwork by Hawai‘i-based artists with in-depth educational information for teachers and students. The poster effort began as part of NWF’s annual National Wildlife Week celebration.

Highlighting Threats to Flora and Fauna

As the most isolated archipelago on the planet, the Hawaiian Islands are home to hundreds of rare species and fragile ecosystems found nowhere else in the world. These Hawaiian flora and fauna face unprecedented threats from invasive non-native species, human development, climate change, and inadequate funding and political support to fully protect species and their habitats. CCH draws attention to the serious consequences of climate change on the island’s habitats and to the dangers non-native ungulates (hoofed mammals), rodents, insects and other invasive species pose to native plants and wildlife.

CCH sets the bar for scientifically grounded positions on critical wildlife issues and is widely recognized for its diligent work to make sure all voices are brought to the table in the efforts to protect Hawai‘i’s endangered native wildlife. Congratulations to the board, staff and volunteers of CCH for the Affiliate of the Year recognition!