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Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Seek Community Support

November 30, 2020, 6:56 AM HST
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Akepa 16. PC: Jack Jeffrey

GivingTuesday is set for tomorrow, and Hawai‘i’s forests could use some generosity.

The Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge have launched their GivingTuesday campaign to celebrate the global day of generosity on Dec. 1 and reach this year’s $150,000 endowment goal. The Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Endowment’s current 2020 fundraising campaign “Celebrate Hakalau’s Forests & Birds” has received donations from generous local, national and international residents (including $75,000 in matching funds) and only needs to raise another $25,000 to reach its goal.

“We are incredibly encouraged by the wide-ranging support for the Friends of Hakalau Forest endowment initiative,” said JB Friday, a forester on the faculty of the University of Hawai‘i and president of the Friends group. “Our long-term goal for the endowment is $2.5 million. This year’s campaign has the potential to get us to $400,000 if we can find generous donors to get us that final $25,000.”

The mission of the Friends of Hakalau Forest is to support the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts in preserving, protecting, and restoring biological diversity, while at the same time providing opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation like birding and photography, education, cultural experiences, and scientific research.

Hawai‘i’s numerous environmental challenges have, at times, seemed insurmountable, with a high percentage of birds, plants, and other wildlife on the brink of extinction. Recent efforts have shown that it is possible to turn this around, at least for key species. One of the success stories for endangered species restoration in Hawai‘i is the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

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Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985 to conserve endangered plants and animals and the native ecosystems. Since its establishment, the Refuge has made great strides toward fencing large areas of the refuge, removing feral ungulates, controlling invasive plant species, and restoring the native koa-o‘hia forest to former ranch lands that had been virtually denuded of forest in order to promote grass pastures for livestock grazing.

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Thousands of endemic plant species, several of them endangered, were out-planted to the understory and endangered forest birds like the Akiapola’au, I’iwi, Akepa, and ‘Alawi (Hawaiian creeper) have moved into these recovering forests to once again utilize these resources that are so critical to their survival.

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge is now the only location in Hawai‘i where endangered forest bird numbers are stable or increasing. Threats to their survival continue and the biggest threat, avian malaria, is increasing. Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge’s 32,830-acres provide important habitat for 29 critically endangered species including seven birds, one insect, one mammal, and 20 plants found nowhere else in the world.

In late 2015, several board members started an endowment with $67,000. The endowment, managed by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, is designed to help support invasive plant and animal control, fence construction and maintenance, and propagation and out-planting of native plant species.

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For every dollar donated, the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge endowment will receive $2, thanks to generous friends who will match the first $75,000 in donations.

To donate online, log on to www.friendsofhakalauforest.org and click on the ENDOWMENT icon on the menu bar. If you wish to make a contribution by check, make the check out to Hawaii‘ Community Foundation: Hakalau Forest Endowment and mail to:

Hawai‘i Community Foundation, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

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