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2024 Proclaimed as the ‘Year of the Forest Bird’ : Maui Now

PC: Office of Governor Josh Green (1.12.24)

The year 2024 is for the forest birds, thanks to a proclamation signed by Hawaiʻi Governor Josh Green, M.D., on Friday.

Forest birds arrived in Hawaiʻi millions of years before the arrival of people and, in some cases, co-evolved with Hawaiian forests to provide critical services like pollination and seed dispersal. The proclamation recognizes the fundamental role these birds play in Hawai‘iʻs ecology and culture, and kicks off a year-long campaign including events, volunteer opportunities and new classroom materials.

“We are all living in bird habitat,” said Governor Green during the signing ceremony at the Hawai‘i State Capitol. “Native forest birds are a fundamental part of what makes Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi.”

PC: Office of Governor Josh Green (1.12.24)
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Dawn Chang, Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, noted that “these manu or birds are part of our connection to place, our moʻolelo, and part of who we are. Protecting Hawaiian forest birds is among our greatest kuleana.”

Of 84 Hawaiian forest bird species recorded in the fossil record or by observation, 58 have gone extinct and will never be seen again. Of the 26 species remaining, 24 are designated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature at risk levels ranging from “vulnerable” to “critically endangered.” Four species of honeycreeper (the ʻakikiki, ʻakekeʻe, kiwikiu, and ʻākohekohe) are considered at risk of extinction in the next 10 years or less without substantial conservation efforts.

PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi (1.12.24)

Despite the dire situation, Fridayʻs event was a celebration that focused on new signs of hope. In 2023, conservation partners implemented, the Incompatible Insect Technique(IIT) in Hawaiʻi, a new tool to control mosquitoes that carry deadly avian malaria. Combining mosquito reduction with predator control and fencing is thought to be the best chance for Hawaiʻi’s forest birds to persist into the future.

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The event was attended by partners including the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bishop Museum, The Nature Conservancy, Hawaiʻi Audubon Society, and the Kauaʻi and Maui Forest Bird Recovery Projects.

These organizations and additional partners, along with Kamehameha Schools, developed the year-long “Makahiki o Nā Manu Nahele” campaign to raise awareness and engage students of all ages in caring for forest birds.

A new campaign website at dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/manu includes the following:

  • Detailed species profiles for Hawaiian forest birds, including photos of extinct birds from collections at Bishop Museum;
  • Forest bird audio mixes for Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island, allowing users to imagine how restored, bird-filled forests would sound;
  • Curricula and lesson plans on Hawaiian honeycreepers and other forest birds;locally-produced mini-documentaries featuring hula, birdsong, and behind-the-scenes footage of bird conservation efforts;
  • Activities, crafts, games, coloring books, and stickers for Hawaiʻi classrooms;
  • Opportunities to donate or purchase items that support bird conservation, and
  • A year-long calendar of events including volunteer opportunities, festivals, workshops, contests, and performances.
Source: Maui News

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