Climate change, Rapid Ohia Death among issues discussed at Hawaii Conservation Conference

Climate change, Rapid Ohia Death among issues discussed at Hawaii Conservation Conference

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 26th annual Hawaii Conservation Conference kicks off Tuesday at the Hawaii Convention Center. Hosted by the Hawaii Conservation Alliance, organizers say the work they’re doing to protect our natural resources is more critical than ever.

The conference provides a vital opportunity for scientists, policymakers, educators, students and community members from across the Pacific to identify the most critical challenges facing conservation efforts and share best practices they’ve learned.

This year’s theme, “Heaalii ku makani au,” translates to “Resilience in the Face of Change.”

Organizers say the purpose of the conference is to make sure all stakeholders have a strong foundation and are firmly grounded with support for their efforts as stewards of Hawaii so that “when pushed, discouraged or challenged, we can bounce back stronger than ever” — just like the aalii tree.

Along with addressing drastic climate change, one of the key focuses this year is how Hawaii's geographic isolation makes it particularly vulnerable to the threats posed by invasive species.

Officials say that because the Hawaiian archipelago is the most isolated land mass in the world, its home to an abundance of species and ecosystems found nowhere else, which are in danger more than ever before.

Experts say alien species can often out compete with native species and wreak havoc on the balance of our delicate ecosystems on which Hawaii’s biological and economic security rely.

Wednesday will feature a series of presentations that are open to the public about the current state and management of Rapid Ohia Death — one of the most devastating invasive pathogens introduced to Hawaii.

Just last week, state officials confirmed they found a lone ohia tree on a private property in East Maui that has a strain of the fungal pathogen.

Tuesday’s opening panel comes from a new group called the the Oiwi Climate Collective. The panel will address climate change from a traditional Native Hawaiian cultural lens.

Organizers say 25% of the Earth’s surface is under the care of indigenous cultures.

On Tuesday, organizers will host the first ever conservation conference session conducted entirely in Olelo Hawaii — the Hawaiian language — with simultaneous translation available to those who need it. The Oleo Hawaii session isn’t open to the public — only conference attendees. It begins at 3:15 p.m.

The Hawaii Conservation Conference runs through Thursday, July 11.

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