IUCN Congress assembles in Hawaii

Groups discuss conservation challenges


By Anela Chavez

Hula dancers end the opening ceremony with a performance.

Anela Chavez, Editor-in-chief

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature held a congress for world conservation. It was held, for the very first time, in the United States on the island of Oahu. It lasted 10 days, from September 1 to 10. Thousands upon thousands of experts, politicians and people attended. This year’s theme was “Planet at the Crossroads.”

“Our planet, and its fragile ecosystems have been pushed to the limits of their existence,” Kamanaopono Crabbe, chief executive officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs said.

One point of pride mentioned by several ceremony speakers was the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument by President Barack Obama. It is now the largest protected conservation area in the United States and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. It stretches across 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, making it larger than all the country’s national parks combined. It is home to over 7,000 marine species, about 40 million seabirds and offers protection to endangered species like the Hawaiian monk seal and green turtle.

“We share a personal, ancestral, and spiritual connection with our natural and cultural heritage. We have a kuleana, a responsibility, to mālama, to steward, our natural and cultural resources,” David Ige, governor of Hawaii.

Hawaii is considered one of the most diverse places in the world when it comes to culture and species of plants and animals.

“Hawaii’s natural environment provides the foundation of our livelihood,” Ige said.

Unfortunately, Hawaii faces many problems with pollution, overfishing, invasive species, climate change, etc. that threaten our economy and environment.

Many solutions have been suggested over the years. The U.S. has conservation successes like the National Park Service that just celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada just celebrated its 100th anniversary and the Migratory Bird Treaty with Mexico celebrated its 80th anniversary.

The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation was one of many organizations represented at the congress. The group believes that hunting can be a valuable tool for conservation. This can include trophy hunting or population control with animals like deer and pigs.

“There is no ‘cookie cutter’ solution to conservation…,” Caroline Sorensen, technical analyst for the council said in a press conference with The Pinion.