State Wildlife Sanctuaries
Many factors have contributed to wetland degradation over the past 100 years in Hawaii. Urbanization, invasive species, and instability of watersheds are arguably the most influencing factors in the loss of wetland habitat. The habitat loss has led to the displacement of many important waterbird species endemic to Hawaii, leading to a critical reduction in their populations. Hawaiian Stilt, Coot Moorhen and Duck, are all federally listed as endangered species and are protected by both state and federal laws. Ecosystem condition and its ability to function properly as a wetland, is critical to the recovery of these waterbird species. Agencies and laws help to identify natural ecosystems and protect the lands which house these areas. The State Wildlife Sanctuary program aims to restore habitat and provide protection to nesting sanctuaries as part of a comprehensive plan to aid in the recovery of these species.
This project focuses on managing State Wildlife Sanctuaries in wetlands on Oahu: Pouhala, Hamakua, Kawainui Marsh and Paiko Lagoon. The main focus is to implement wetland management techniques utilized by DOFAW to restore, enhance, protect and maintain these wetland ecosystems. These projects focus on species and habitat monitoring to assess conditions and direct management practices aimed to mitigate problems based on observations. Specific species, (both plant and animal) are identified as threats to waterbirds and a mitigation plan is formed to combat the threats, and implemented by DOFAW personnel. Mitigation steps are tracked and monitored to assess the effectiveness of the plan, and to modify it as necessary to achieve the threat management. General ecosystem events are also accounted for and factored in to recovery efforts. These general effects include everything from weather, unusual natural events, proximity of high traffic human use areas, staff/personnel issues, and any other factors that may influence habitat conditions or affect waterbirds in the wetlands.