Maui News

Hawai‘i Celebrates World Wetlands Day

February 19, 2019, 8:51 AM HST
* Updated February 19, 9:44 AM
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State conservation groups are celebrating World Wetlands Day, marking 38 years since an intergovernmental treaty was signed that provides framework for national and international cooperation for the wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is partnering again this year with environmental and community organizations to host World Wetlands Day at Kawainui-Hāmākua on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. This family-friendly event celebrates the designation of Kawainui-Hāmākua as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.

Kawainui marsh. PC: Hawai’i DLNR

In keeping with the 2019 theme of Wetlands and Climate Change, a forum with government, researchers, and community leaders will address the impacts of climate change on the wetlands of the Kailua ahupua‘a.

Each year since 1997, government agencies and community organizations have offered programs aimed at raising public awareness about the values and benefits of wetlands.

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There are currently 2,339 Ramsar wetlands worldwide. Kawainui-Hāmākua was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2005 in recognition of both its cultural significance as an ancient fishpond and its value as a wetland habitat for Hawaiʻi’s endangered waterbirds.

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At approximately 800 acres in size, Kawainui is the largest extant wetland in Hawai‘i. Nearby Hāmākua is 23 acres and is located adjacent to Kawainui Stream that connects the two wetlands. Today, the two wetlands are managed by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife as wildlife sanctuaries. These wetlands also provide flood protection for Kailua. The DLNR Division of State Parks manages several areas around the edge of the wetlands, including Ulupō Heiau State Historical Park and Kawainui State Park Reserve.

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