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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 3, 2003

Alliance seeks to be voice for conserving

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Columnist

The University of Hawai'i-based Secretariat for Conservation Biology, which was formed in 1986, has changed its name, and, to some degree, its priorities.

The organization, which is within the university's Center for Conservation Research and Training, held a forum and a retreat last year where it tried to identify needs within natural resources conservation and related issues in the Islands. One thing came into focus, said the group's director, Claudia Hamblin-Katnik.

"It seemed that the conservation community lacked a unified voice," she said.

The secretariat decided one problem was that its own name was not a clear indicator of what it did, so the group opted to change the name. It's now called the Hawai'i Conservation Alliance, and one of its goals is to provide a single voice for the conservation science community, Hamblin-Katnik said.

"To accomplish this the HCA has decided to generate white papers on specific topics and brief the governor and legislators on the conservation repercussions, as well as social and economic repercussions," she said.

(A white paper is a detailed report, often prepared by scientists or experts in a particular field.)

The alliance will continue to do what it has been doing, which includes helping promote protection of native ecosystems by supporting collaboration between land managers, scientists, teachers and the public.

In other activities, the alliance will award grants for marine conservation and on-land conservation work, and wants to expand exchanges between conservation professionals from Hawai'i and other island areas.

It will also work to raise money for fellowships in the University of Hawai'i's Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology graduate program.

The organization is a partnership of 11 groups and agencies in Hawai'i: University of Hawai'i Center for Conservation Research and Training, The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i, state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division, U.S. National Park Service, Bishop Museum, East West Center Program on Environment, Kamehameha Schools and Ducks Unlimited.

That kind of partnership is needed to get serious conservation work done in Hawai'i, Hamblin-Katnik said.

"The job of protecting and managing Hawai'i's unique biodiversity is too big, and the resources are too scarce for any single organization to do the job alone. Nor can we afford excessive overlap among activities," she said.

Jan TenBruggencate is The Advertiser's Kaua'i bureau chief and its science and environment writer. Reach him at (808) 245-3074 or jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.