Forum touts collaboration as key to conservation success


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

For Chad Wiggins of The Nature Conservancy, this proverb summed up the intent of the Hawaii Island Conservation Forum in Waimea.

Held Tuesday at Kahilu Theatre, the event stressed how passionate people are at the heart of conservation and how their relationships are more than strategic game pieces that help them achieve their goals efficiently. Wiggins said such collaborations can help achieve goals beyond individual needs, build upon work already accomplished and elevate efforts to the next level.

Kohala Watershed Partnership coordinator Melora Purell, Colleen Cole of Three Mountain Alliance, Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance coordinator Cheyenne Hiapo Perry, and Springer Kaye of Big Island Invasive Species Committee organized the forum. Their hope was to have a broad conversation about sustainable, effective conservation on the Big Island and discuss ways to engage people in preserving and taking care of the aina, said Moana “Ulu” Ching, of the Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science at University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Nearly 200 people attended the forum. In the morning, 20 presenters shared information about who they are and the work they do, as well as how partnerships are key to their success.

During their presentation, Jen Lawson of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, Wilds Pihanui Brawner of Kaupulehu Dryland Forest and Elliott Parsons of the Puuwaawaa Forest Reserve talked about the success of the Dry Forest Hui O Hana, a monthly work exchange between the three areas. By coming together, they have gotten better at their jobs, shared resources, made more progress toward goals, and were able to piece together what a dryland forest is supposed to look like. Their meetings often generate ideas and discussions that lead to better strategies.

The event brought together resource managers, community supporters, field crews, policy makers, scientists, educators and students, all of whom were interested in forging new partnerships, networking or sharing information that will enable people to do more for our natural resources, Purell said.

The forum celebrated current conservation accomplishments, done on a mostly grassroots scale; helped facilitate connections of places, people and work in an intimate way; and will hopefully result in greater synergy, awareness and advocacy, she said.

In the end, attendees hoped an islandwide conservation hui would be formed or this forum would be held annually, she added.

To get involved or for more information, contact Purell at 333-0976 or coordinator@kohalawatershed.org.