The State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands was released on Monday. A United States Department of Agriculture media release says the document “shows that private lands have critical conservation value, and that landowners and managers can measure their yield not only in bushels and head and cords, but also in bluebirds, hawks and canvasbacks.”
Only pages of the 48 page report are devoted to “Islands”. A little more than half of that is about Hawaii.
The report says one-third of all birds on the federal endangered species list are native to Hawaii. Ten of these species and subspecies may already be extinct. “Although many private lands in Hawaii are devoted to agricultural production and have lost much of their value for native birds, other private tracts are extremely important bird habitat,” the report states.
The report also delves into the challenges facing these unique birds in Hawaii:
|Avian malaria and avian pox are deadly to many Hawaiian native birds. Spread by nonnative mosquitos, these diseases are less prevalent above 4,500 feet elevation. Many endangered forest birds rely on higher-elevation habitat. Averaged across Hawai`i, private lands support approximately 27% of upland forest bird distribution, including `Akikiki and `Akeke`e on Kaua`i, and `Akiapōlā`au and Hawai`i Creeper on Hawai`i Island. Bird species that frequent lower elevations have higher distributions on private lands (such as an average of 44% for O`ahu, Kaua`i, and Hawai`i `Elepaios combined). The `Io (Hawaiian Hawk) is fairly common on open ranchlands on Hawai`i Island, with nearly 60% of its range on private lands. More than 42% of Hawai`i’s wetlands are on private lands, giving private landowners a major stake in the protection and recovery of endangered waterbirds, such as the `Alae ke`oke`o (Hawaiian Coot) and Ae`o (Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt).
The report highlites some of the key partnerships that have been formed to conserve Hawaii’s wildlife and natural resources. “Eleven watershed partnerships consisting of 71 entities (most of them private landowners) protect and manage 2.2 million acres of forested watersheds across 6 islands.” These report touches upon the subject of fence construction, which helps the partnerships “control nonnative grazing animals, controlling invasive plants, conducting reforestation, and educating the public about the value of these lands.”
The report focuses on one Hawaii Island partnership in particular:
|As Hawai`i’s largest private landowner with over 367,500 acres, the Kamehameha Schools/Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate are important conservation partners in multiple watershed partnerships, including the Three Mountain Alliance on Hawai`i Island. One alliance project on the flanks of Mauna Loa is restoring māmane forest that could be recovery habitat for the endangered Palila. Kamehameha Schools also owns the Keauhou Ranch on Hawai`i Island, where a koa forest restoration is benefitting many species of native birds. The San Diego Zoo leases a portion of the ranch as the site of the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, a captive breeding facility for native bird species, such as the `Alalā (Hawaiian Crow), which is extinct in the wild.
Across the entire United States, private owners manage 1.43 billion acres, which is roughly 60 percent of the land area of the United States. 251 of which the country’s federally threatened birds are known to make use of these lands.
The report is a collaborative effort between the USDA and the U.S. Department of the Interior, and is part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, involving federal and state wildlife agencies and scientific and conservation organizations.
You can download the The State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands report on the internet. (PDF file)