FORESTS VICTORY: Hawaiian Rainforest Protected After Long Struggle September 13, 2005 1:46 PM
FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
Hawaiian Rainforest Protected After Long Struggle
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September 13, 2005
OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Dr. Glen Barry, Forests.org
After a twenty year struggle that included peaceful protests and arrests,
nearly 26,000 acres of Hawaii's natural rainforests have been protected.
Wao Kele is the largest remaining intact tract of Hawaiian rain forest,
and it had been threatened by geothermal energy development for two
decades. Wao Kele is home to 200 native Hawaiian plants and animal
species, some listed as threatened or endangered, and contains a large
portion of an important regional aquifer. The agreement reached ensures
that Native Hawaiians will be able to continue to use the Wao Kele site as
they have for generations, while Wao Kele is retained in its natural state
In 1992, the first non-Papua New Guinea related action alert I ever wrote
was on behalf of these marvelous forests; and from time to time
Forests.org's network has advocated on their behalf since. This victory -
more so than most - rests squarely on the backs of a relatively small
group of highly dedicated local activists that relentlessly worked to
protect this area. It helped that the geothermal development proved
uneconomical; but regardless, these forests would not have been protected
without tireless guardians.
This bolsters what I have long contended - that the best thing anyone can
do for the environment is band together with others in their community to
organize, advocate and agitate on behalf of, and in order to protect, a
particular natural ecosystem. It may be an important local woodlot, or
the Ecuadorian Amazon, but adopt an ecosystem, do research, organize a
campaign, strategize, create materials, protest and get the area
protected. Pick a forest and love it to protection.
Comment upon this victory and email at:
P.S. We are on a roll, so let's protect some more of the Earth! Four
extremely important current campaigns that would benefit from your help
can be found in our latest action alerts at http://forests.org/action/ .
RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
Title: Hawaii: Rain forest deal ends 20 years of effort
Source: Copyright 2005, Honolulu Advertiser
Date: September 13, 2005
Byline: Gordon Y.K. Pang
Nearly 20 years ago, Palikapu Dedman was among the dozens arrested and led
away in handcuffs when they trespassed at Wao Kele O Puna to protest a
plan to develop geothermal energy on the largest intact tract of Hawaiian
rain forest in the state.
Yesterday, Dedman choked up as he stood next to Gov. Linda Lingle, Office
of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona and other leaders at a
news conference announcing an arrangement designed not only to ensure
Native Hawaiians will be able to continue to use the Wao Kele site as they
have for generations, but to retain Wao Kele in its natural state in
"It was a struggle for 20 years, and I really appreciate the outcome,"
said Dedman, president of the Pele Defense Fund. The activist group has
focused its energies on ensuring that Native Hawaiians can continue using
the 25,856-acre rain forest for traditional religious and cultural
practices, from making offerings to Hawaiian gods to picking maile leaves
Under the plan announced yesterday, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land
will acquire the property - about three miles southeast of Pahoa High
School - from landowner Campbell Estate and then convey the property to
OHA. OHA would initially share management duties with the Department of
Land and Natural Resources but would eventually have sole responsibility.
OHA intends to transfer the property to a federally recognized Native
Hawaiian entity at some point.
The arrangement "hopefully cinches our gathering rights forever - for the
babies not born yet," Dedman said.
The Trust for Public Land got Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, to help
secure $3.4 million from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program
for the purchase. OHA's board of trustees recently voted to pay the
remaining $250,000 for the property, and to foot an estimated $228,000
bill for annual management and maintenance.
Lingle singled out Dedman and his group for their decades-long dedication
to their cause.
"It's an object lesson for young people that if you believe in something,
and you stick with it, and you convince others that your cause is right
... eventually good things will happen," she said.
She noted that Wao Kele is home to 200 native Hawaiian plants and animal
species, including some listed as threatened or endangered, and contains
20 percent of the Pahoa aquifer.
"An area that was really a center of strife for a long time ... now can be
a center of life going forward," she said.
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