2018 Hawai'i Impact Report

Protecting Our Lands and Waters

orange bird
Hawaiʽi akepa, a native honeycreeper. © jackjeffreyphoto.com

In 2018, TNC continued its long history of protecting native forests and undertook an innovative process to help manage 30% of Hawaiʻi’s nearshore waters by 2030.

owner Keith Unger.
McCandless Ranch owner Keith Unger. © Keith Unger

Growing a Refuge 

Last spring, the U.S. Congress appropriated the final phase of funding to transfer 10,000 acres of native forest on Hawai‘i Island from McCandless Ranch to the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. TNC played a leading role in advocating for funding for the transfer, which had been the number one national acquisition priority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past three years. 

This addition realizes a 20-year goal to ensure perpetual care of prime habitat for endangered Hawaiian forest birds and a key watershed that links private, state and federal lands together, bringing more than 500,000 acres under conservation management. Established in 1985, the refuge now encompasses 48,000 acres. Including the McCandless addition, TNC has played a major role in the purchase and transfer of 32,000 of those acres.

a diver near coral
TNC diver conducting research in Hawaiʽi. © Kydd Pollock/TNC

Effectively Managing our Oceans

Hawai‘i’s economy and cultural traditions are intimately tied to our marine environment. But impacts from overfishing, land-based pollution and climate change are degrading our reefs, contributing to as much as a 50% decline in live coral cover and a 90% decline in some important reef fish populations.

To reverse this trend, the State has committed to effectively manage 30% of our nearshore waters by 2030. Together with the State in 2018,  TNC worked with scientists, local communities and other stakeholders in a groundbreaking effort to identify which areas to manage with the best chance of long-term survival. A critical first step was to collect and synthesize statewide spatial data on natural resources, such as nearshore habitats and fisheries, and important human uses, such as fishing and recreation. How to manage these areas will be determined through a collaborative process based on science, local knowledge and traditional practices.

Statewide, more than 30 coastal communities are now involved in natural resource management and learning networks. By restoring fishponds, managing reefs and fish populations, assessing ocean water quality and conducting beach cleanups, they are transforming ocean conservation in Hawai‘i and will be essential to achieving the goal of effectively managing 30% of nearshore waters. TNC has been supporting these community-driven efforts for the past 17 years, providing technical advice, scientific information and training.

School of manini, Palmyra Schools of convict tangs, a colorful reef fish © Kydd Pollock

Read More from Our 2018 Impact Report

Kō i ka Pono: Carrying Out Our Mission