World Wetlands Day to be celebrated in South Maui with two free events
The events will be on Feb. 4, World Wetlands Day, which is celebrated internationally by organizations to raise awareness about the fragile, biodiverse and culturally treasured wetland ecosystems around the world.
Discover native Hawaiian plants like the ʻākulikuli and makaloa sedge. Witness the native endangered water birds including the Aeʻo (Hawaiian Stilt) and the ʻAlae keʻokeʻo (Hawaiian Coot) thriving in the ponds. And, hear Moʻolelo (legends) of the wetlands to understand how integral wetlands have been and are to the Hawaiian culture.
The events on Feb. 4:
Lāʻie Mauka Wetlands, 8 a.m.: Volunteer with South Maui Wetlands Hui and take action removing invasive plants and planting native plants. Park at the Maui Medi Spa Lot, then enter via the South Kīhei Road gate entrance. Email your intention to participate to [email protected] .
Wetlands Walking Excursion & Activities for Keiki and Ohana, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Start at Learning Endeavors, walk to Lāʻie Mauka Wetlands for activities with South Maui Save the Wetlands Hui and Learning Endeavors, proceed to Piʻikea Ponds for bird watching, then return to Learning Endeavors (1.5 mile loop total). Parking is in the South Maui Community Park (1501 Liloa Drive in Kīhei). Check in at Learning Endeavors at 8:30 a.m.
Participants will learn to identify wetland plants and investigate water quality. They can join art and other hands-on activities, and count native wetland birds as part of a citizen science project in the Piʻikea Ponds. Binoculars, field guides and activity sheets will be provided.
Register for this event at learningendeavors.org/wetlands. Call 808-793-3322 or email [email protected] for more information. The first 30 participants will receive additional wetland coloring and activity pages and other surprises.
Closed-toe shoes, hats, sunscreen and water bottles are recommended for both events. All participants will receive a wetland goodie bag with a one-of-a-kind Hawaiian wetland calendar produced by Save the Wetlands Hui.
The official Ramsar World Wetlands Day Site with more resources is at https://www.worldwetlandsday.org/. According to Ramsar and the United Nations Convention on Wetlands, “With 40% of all the world’s species living and breeding in these environments, wetlands help sustain the Earth’s biodiversity. Wetlands are home to more than 100,000 freshwater species. They are essential for many amphibians, reptiles, and migratory birds.”
Last September 2022, the Maui County Council passed Bill 91 (CD1), an important step to increase efforts to preserve the remaining wetlands on Maui. Former Council Member Kelly Tanaka King said, “Wetlands are environmentally sensitive ecosystems which create habitat for important species and environmental resilience to the effects of climate change. They serve essential functions, including slowing, capturing and filtering the flow of runoff and sediment in storm events.”
As a result of this new law, wetland areas are currently being identified and mapped if they contain at least two indicators of hydrology (evidence of groundwater, hydric soils and hydric vegetation). Part of this work is funded by the county with the Hawaiʻi Land Trust as the fiscal sponsor, and environmental scientist Robin Knox as the project director.
“Engaging the community in learning about our wetlands and helping on restoration and citizen science efforts is also a very important part of the overall effort,” Knox said.
Hawaiʻi wetlands are habitats for many migratory birds like the Kolea, the Akekeke, the Kioea, and many more that arrive every winter after their Summers in the Arctic habitats of Canada and Alaska.
For more information about Save the Wetlands Hui visit www.savethewetlands.org or contact [email protected]. For more information about Learning Endeavors visit learningendeavors.org or contact at [email protected] or 808-793-3322.
Funding for these events is provided by a Maui County Grant operated by the Hawaiʻi Land Trust.