VICTORY: Hawaiian Rainforest Protected After Long Struggle
After a twenty year struggle that included peaceful protests and arrests, nearly 26,000 acres of Hawaii's natural rainforests have been protected. Wao Kele is the largest remaining intact tract of Hawaiian rain forest, and it had been threatened by geothermal energy development for two decades. Wao Kele is home to 200 native Hawaiian plants and animal species, some listed as threatened or endangered, and contains a large portion of an important regional aquifer. The agreement reached ensures that Native Hawaiians will be able to continue to use the Wao Kele site as they have for generations, while Wao Kele is retained in its natural state in perpetuity.
In 1992, the first non-Papua New Guinea related action alert I ever wrote was on behalf of these marvelous forests; and from time to time Forests.org's network has advocated on their behalf since. This victory – more so than most – rests squarely on the backs of a relatively small group of highly dedicated local activists that relentlessly worked to protect this area. It helped that the geothermal development proved uneconomical; but regardless, these forests would not have been protected without tireless guardians.
This bolsters what I have long contended ? that the best thing anyone can do for the environment is band together with others in their community to organize, advocate and agitate on behalf of, and in order to protect, a particular natural ecosystem. It may be an important local woodlot, or the Ecuadorian Amazon, but adopt an ecosystem, do research, organize a campaign, strategize, create materials, protest and get the area protected. Pick a forest and love it to protection.