McInerny Foundation (Bank of Hawaii, trustee) has awarded The Nature Conservancy a $275,000 grant to restore coral reefs in Kāne‘ohe Bay.
The grant is the largest ever awarded by the foundation for an environmental project, which will help revitalize the bay and benefit surrounding communities.
“This is an ambitious, multi-year project to clear invasive algae from Kāne‘ohe Bay,” said Suzanne Case, the Conservancy’s Hawai‘i executive director. “The Nature Conservancy would like to thank McInerny Foundation for its generous support of this endeavor.”
Kāne‘ohe Bay is the largest bay in the main Hawaiian Islands and the only one containing fringing, patch and barrier reef systems. Traditionally, the bay was home to some of the highest numbers and greatest diversity of fish and corals on O‘ahu. But over time these populations have plummeted, in large part due to the threats posed by invasive algae, overharvesting and land-based sources of pollution.
Through the Kāne‘ohe Bay Reef Restoration Project, The Nature Conservancy will begin removing alien algae from the north end of the bay, where fast-spreading invasive algae are over-growing the reefs and altering the bay’s ecology.
Work will be done in partnership with the State and the University of Hawai‘i and expand on invasive algae removal efforts that have been ongoing since 2006.
Over the long term, keeping invasive algae in check will also require reducing the flow of sediments and nutrients into the bay. To that end, the Conservancy is supporting a community-led project to restore a traditional Hawaiian wetland system in Kāne‘ohe’s He‘eia ahupua‘a—a large 2,250-acre mountains-to-sea land division with an historic fishpond at its ocean end.
The He‘eia community is clearing pasture land, planting taro lo‘i (fields), and restoring fresh water fishponds and native wetlands that act as sediment traps to reduce sediment and nutrient flowing into the bay.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.