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Nominations sought for the ATBC Honorary Fellow Awards (2016)

The ATBC Honorary Fellows Award is given annually to one or two recipients who are persons that have provided long distinguished service to tropical biology. This includes persons who have been an inspiration and role model for younger scientists and students.

We invite nominations from any ATBC member. We especially encourage nominations of women and developing country scientists.

If you would like to nominate someone, please submit a letter of nomination, including a description of the achievements of the nominated person, and an explanation of why she/he deserves the award. Please also include a name and contact details of the nominated person, any relevant web links, and a CV if available.

The deadline for submission of nominations is Friday 5th February.

The Honorary Awards committee, comprising Jaboury Ghazoul (Past-President), Kaoru Kitajima (President), Marielos Peña-Claros (President-Elect), and Bettina Engelbrecht (Councillor), will finalise a short list of candidates, with the final decision being approved by the ATBC Council by end of February. The Awards will be made at the ATBC Annual Meeting in Montpellier (June 2016).

If you would like to nominate someone, please submit a letter of nomination to Jaboury Ghazoul ( The letter should include a description of the achievements of the nominated person, and an explanation of why she/he deserves the award. Please also include a name and contact details of the nominated person, any relevant web links, and a CV if available.

Results of the ATBC election are in!

Congratulations to our new officers:

President Elect

Dr. Marielos Peña-Claros

Associate Professor

Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Councilors (2016-2019)

Dr. Cristina Martínez-Garza, 

Professor, State University of Morelos, México

Dr. Rebecca Ostertag

Professor, University of –Hawaii at Hilo, USA

Dr. Patricia Wright

Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, New York, USA

Dr. Rakan A. Zahawi

Director, Las Cruces Biological Station & Wilson Botanical Garden, Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica

MARIELOS PEÑA-CLAROS. Associate Professor Wageningen University, the Netherlands (2015-present). Education: B.Sc. University of São Paulo, Brazil 1990; MSc. University of Florida, USA 1996; Ph.D. Utrecht University the Netherlands 2001. Past positions: Assistant Professor Wageningen University, the Netherlands (2010-2014); Associate Researcher Wageningen University, the Netherlands (2006-2009); Lecturer Technical University Van Hall Larenstein (2007); Executive Director Bolivian Forest Research Institute, Bolivia (2003-2006); Director Research Unit Bolivian Forest Management Project, Bolivia (2002-2003); Subdirector Research Unit Bolivian Forest Management Project, Bolivia (2001-2002);  Senior Researcher Forest Management of the Bolivian Amazon Program, Bolivia (1996-2001); Project Coordinator Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, Bolivia (1992-1993); Project Assistant, Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, Bolivia (1991-1992); Lecturer Autonomous University Gabriel Rene Moreno, Bolivia (1991). Students supervision: 11 PhD thesis, 25 MSc thesis, 5 MSc internships, 8 BSc thesis. Position of trust: Board Director of the Bolivian Forest Research Institute (elected for three terms, 2011- 2017); Advisory Committee to the Van Hall Larenstein Bachelor program Tropical Forestry, the Netherlands (2009-present); Council of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (2005 – 2006); Board Director of the Bolivian Council for Forest Certification, Bolivia (1997-2000, 2004-2006). Editorial work: Associate Editor of Biotropica (2010 to present); Subject Editor of Biotropica (2008-2009); Member of the Editorial Board of the Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botánica (2012-present). Publications: 59 scientific articles, 12 book chapters or books, 18 miscellaneous publications.

Personal statement: Over the years I have worked on a variety of research topics, mainly focussing on ecological aspects of tropical forests that are either being managed for timber or non-timber forest products or that had been impacted by human activities. In my research I use a variety of theoretical concepts (e.g., functional approach) and tools (e.g., large-scale experiments); work at several temporal, spatial and organizational scales; and actively work with researchers from different disciplines (e.g., social scientists). I have three main research lines: 1) management of forest resources and sustainable harvesting levels, 2) forest recovery after natural and human disturbances, which is crucial to understand forest resilience to global change, 3) forests in multifunctional landscapes, and the effects of land use change on the provision of ecosystem services. With my research I aim to design best management practices based on evidence-based, sound, ecological knowledge.

Given the strategic foci of the ATBC, I believe that it is critical that ecological research results are translated into the best management practices for extraction of resources (e.g., timber) or recovery of degraded ecosystems. Such practices should take into account socio-economic considerations, and therefore, we should promote interdisciplinary research and/or should engage in a more direct dialogue with field practitioners and decision makers. Additionally, I think that we should encourage greater participation of researchers from different geographical regions and research fields that are currently under represented in the association. Finally, I think that is crucial to provide opportunities for young researchers to get trained, mentored, or advised by senior members of the association, as they will have a large role in defining the future of tropical ecosystems in terms of conservation and sustainable management.

CRISTINA MARTÍNEZ-GARZA.  Professor, State University of Morelos, Mexico (since 2004); Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago, 2003. Fellowship from the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (1997-2002); National University of Mexico (B.S. 1996). Professional Societies: ATBC, Mexican Society of Ecology (SCME) and Mexican Society of Botany (SBM). Associated editor: Tropical Ecology (since 2013) and Botanical Sciences (since 2015).

Personal Statement. I believe that stopping deforestation is not enough anymore; we need to actively increase forested areas through restoration in human-modified landscapes. Currently I am in charge of two large, long-term experimental restoration projects established nine years ago at the rainforest of Los Tuxtlas, state of Veracruz (the north limit of the rainforest in America) and at the dry forest of the state of Morelos, in Mexico funded by the NSF-USA and National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico. In both places, economic activities still take place whereas plans and animals move in the landscape using the islands we created.  I have participated also in the establishment of restoration plantings in the dry forest of the states of Puebla, Jalisco and Morelos, Mexico using restoration plantings as experiments. These experiments include restoration treatments with different degrees of intervention: minimal, as exclusion of chronic disturbance, intermediate as direct seeding and maximal as reintroduction of tree species as seedlings from the mature forest. I teach population ecology, restoration ecology and different topics of conservation. I have directed 11 bachelor theses and 4 master theses, mostly of women students. Currently, I have 10 undergraduate and 4 graduate students under my direction. I have seen how students grow in knowledge and security when they attend ATBC meetings. As a council member, I would like to promote the participation not only of graduate students but also undergraduate students and to encourage research connecting conservation and restoration in human-modified landscapes through the coexistence of economic activities and forest fragments.

ReBECCA Ostertag. Professor, University of –Hawaii at Hilo, USA (2012-present); Associate Professor, University of Hawaii at Hilo, USA (2006-2012); Affiliate Graduate Faculty, Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology Program and Dept. of Botany, University of Hawaii at Mānoa; USA (2004-present), Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii at Hilo, USA (2001-2006); Post-doc Associate, University of California, Berkeley and International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Puerto Rico (1998-2001); Ph.D., University of Florida, USA (1998). Professional Societies: American Geophysical Union, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Organization for Tropical Studies, Ecological Society of America, Sigma Xi, Society for Ecological Restoration. I have been fortunate to conduct research in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. I am a forest ecologist who examines questions relating to biological invasions, nutrient cycling, and restoration.  My research has a strong field component and involves integration of natural history, community structure, and ecosystem dynamics.

Personal Statement: I feel a strong commitment to tropical biology that started the first time I stepped into a tropical forest as an undergraduate. I have lived and conducted all of my research in the tropics for most of the last two decades, and I want to see ATBC be recognized as a world leader in tropical conservation and education.  ATBC will always be a group of wonderful, dedicated scientists, but as a council member I will push for broader international membership, more opportunities for students, and advocacy for wise forest use and conservation in the public policy arena.

RAKAN A. (ZAK) ZAHAWI. Director, Las Cruces Biological Station & Wilson Botanical Garden, Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica (2006-present); Adjunct Faculty Duke University (2004-present); Research Associate University of California, Santa Cruz (2008-present); Ph.D. University of Illinois (2003); B.S. University of Texas (1992). Society Memberships: ATBC (1997-present), Ecological Society of America (2003-present), Society for Ecological Restoration (1995-present). Service: Co-Chair ATBC 50th Congress, San José, Costa Rica (2013); Supervisory Committee 2nd US – Costa Rican debt for Nature swap (2010-present); Amistosa Biological Corridor Advisory Committee (2010-2015); Ad hoc NSF panels; reviewer for >25 journals. Research interests: Forest regeneration in degraded tropical habitats, forest dynamics in fragmented landscapes, seed dispersal ecology, restoration ecology, conservation biology. Field research conducted in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Ecuador.

Personal Statement: As a tropical ecologist with more than a decade living, teaching, conducting research, and promoting conservation initiatives in Central America, I believe I am well-situated to be an effective ATBC councilor. In my research I have evaluated theoretical ecological concepts centered on forest recovery in degraded habitats where I have quantified both the obstacles to recovery, and developed cost-effective strategies to facilitate or accelerate succession once sites are abandoned. Research has been both observational and experimental, and I have established large- and small-scale projects with fellow collaborators and students from multiple institutions. In my current position as Director of a large field research station in southern Costa Rica, I interact with a wide range of researchers from the Americas as well as from Europe; many universities also make use of the field station and reserve for teaching purposes. Accordingly, I have an expansive international network of contacts that I could tap into to help advance key aspects of the new strategic foci adopted by ATBC in the last meeting. I can also promote broader participation in ATBC by researchers and students – especially those from underrepresented countries in Latin America. Lastly, I have worked in community engagement and capacity building, and have engaged in ambitious fundraising efforts to further conservation initiatives at multiple levels, all of which are key goals for ATBC. As a councilor, I believe that as I could help further the mission of ATBC and increase the reach and breadth of the organization, particularly for the Neotropics.

PATRICIA C. WRIGHT.  Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University (1995 to present); Distinguished Service Professor, State University of New York (2014 to present); Visiting Research Professor, Department of Ecology and Systematics, University of Helsinki, Finland (2006-2010); Director of the “Fall Semester in Madagascar” Study Abroad program (1993-2016) and “Summer Study Abroad in Madagascar” (2010-2016); Member of the Conservation Trust, National Geographic Society (2001-2010);  Member of Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society (2000-2009); Executive Director, Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stony Brook University (1992 to present); Faculty, Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution, Interdepartmental Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University (1992 to present);  Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Stony Brook (1991-1995); Interim Director of the Duke University Primate Center, Duke University (1990); International Coordinator, Ranomafana National Park Project (1987-1998); Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Anthropology & Anatomy, Duke University (1987-1990);  Visiting Research Associate, Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology (1986-1988); Research Associate, Duke University Primate Center (1983 to present). Chevalier National Medal of Honor (1995), Officier National Medal of Honor (2005) and Commandeur Medal of Honor (2014) from the Madagascar Government. MacArthur Fellow (1989-1994), Hauptman-Woodward Pioneer in Science Medal (2007), Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation (2014). Founder and Executive Director of Centre ValBio Research Station in Ranomafana, Madagascar (1991-2016). Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stony Brook University (1993-2016). Media output includes IMAX 3D film “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” narrated by Morgan Freeman (2014) “Forests of our Ancestors Madagascar” (2009),”High Moon over the Amazon: my quest to understand the monkeys of the night” (2013), For the” Love of Lemurs: My life in the wilds of Madagascar” (2014).

Personal statement: Personal Statement. I have over 35 years experience in research on tropical rain forests, mostly in South America, Borneo and Madagascar.  During my graduate research I worked on the behavioral ecology of owl monkeys and titi monkeys at Cocha Cashu Research Station, Peru, and La Golondrina Ranch, Paraguay.  As a post-doc I studied tarsiers in Borneo. My research now focuses more on understanding the ecological processes including predation, seed dispersal and primate communities in rainforest in Madagascar. I founded and direct the Centre ValBio Research Station in Ranomafana National Park. This station integrates biodiversity studies, conservation biology, sustainable development, modern laboratories including molecular biology, GIS and infectious diseases.  In addition, I have been organizing two field program for 20-25 undergraduates a year for 25 years, in Madagascar and I have mentored over 26 graduate students in tropical biology. I am enthusiastic and long-standing member of the ATBC.  As a Councilor I will help to expand the ATBC to scientists in Madagascar and the African tropics which to date have been unrepresented in the Association.

2015 Global Landscapes Forum: Robin Chazdon – Keynote Speaker

Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Robin Chazdon, spoke at the high-level plenary session from the second day of the Global Landscapes Forum 2015, in Paris, France, December 6th, alongside COP21.

Robin Chazdon explored the challenges and opportunities for the restoration of forest landscapes.  Watch her presentation here and lets partner with Nature!
Global Landscapes Forum, Paris, France
#GLFCOP21 #ThinkLandscape


ATBC 2016 : New deadline for symposium submission!


ATBC2016 : Call for Symposia and Sessions

ATBC2016 : Tropical Ecology and SocietyIn a rapidly changing world where untouched ecosystems are vanishing and biodiversity will have to be maintained in human-modified and sometimes novel environments, reconciling conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the tropics has become a critical issue. The 53rd ATBC Annual Meeting focuses on this issue and aims to gather scientists from many different disciplines to exchange ideas, concepts and approaches, as well as to elaborate and promote innovations for the conservation of tropical ecosystems in the decades to come.

The call for symposia is now opened !

The submission will be available until 1st November, 2015.

Proposals of symposia are encouraged to address the meeting theme if appropriate. Subjects of broad interest to tropical biology and conservation will also be considered for sessions.

Please, review the symposia guidelines before your submission.

Thank you in advance for your involvment !

While waiting for your coming in Montpellier in 2016, feel free to contact us in order to become a partner or for any other question. Find all information Here

We look forward to seeing you in Montpellier. This meeting provides delegates with the opportunity to collaborate with researchers and meet with key speakers and industry leaders — participation is encouraged for anyone with a passion for tropical biology and conservation.

The Organizers : Plinio Sist (CIRAD), Stéphanie Carrière (IRD-GRED), Pia Parolin (INRA-Univ Hamburg) and Pierre-Michel Forget (MNHN-CNRS)

ATBC Website Editor Search

We are searching for an enthusiastic, dynamic, web-savvy content creator to serve as ATBC’s new Website Editor. The Web Editor will sharpen the ATBC’s online presence, expand this presence in new directions, and use our digital platforms to provide information relevant to both the general public and ATBC members. The primary responsibilities of the ATBC Web Site Editor are to:

  • Revise existing web page ( and social media accounts (e.g., Twitter, Facebook).
  • Prepare and solicit content for, such as news of interest to tropical biologists, employment opportunities, ATBC award announcements, resolutions and declarations, updated directories, etc.
  • Developing social media and website guidelines for the ATBC.
  • Coordinate with Chairs of the ATBC Annual Meeting, Chapter Meetings, and Local Organizing Committees as they develop their meeting websites and online activities.
  • Coordinate with publisher and Editor of Biotropica to promote journal content and activities of the ATBC website and Biotropica Editor’s Blog (
  • Provide annual updates to the ATBC Council on website and social media activity and new initiatives.

This is an opportunity to help shape the future of the society, develop a digital portfolio, and broaden the impacts of the research and teaching activities of the members of the society.  Though it is a volunteer position, the Web Editor will be an ex-officio member of the ATBC Council and hence eligible to apply for travel awards to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting.

If interested, please contact Nobby Cordeiro (

Call for Applications for the Whitley Awards 2016

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity offering ‘Whitley Awards’ to dynamic conservation leaders around the world. Whitley Awards are both an international profile prize and a form of project funding (currently worth £35,000 over one year).
The application period for the Whitley Awards 2016 is now OPEN – the deadline for applications is October 31st 2015.

Please visit to download an application form and find guidance notes on how to apply and eligibility.

(Download PDF: Whitley Awards 2016 Call for Applications)

ATBC Resolution in Support of Effective Biosecurity Measures for the State of Hawai’i

Hawai’i is a geographically isolated archipelago comprising a diverse range of biophysical environments. Its situation has resulted in more than 18,000 native species, many of which are unique to Hawai’i, including 81% of birds, 90% of the terrestrial plants, 99% of terrestrial molluscs and insects, and approximately 40% of marine molluscs.

Accidental and intentional introductions of alien species have, however, transformed ecosystems and landscapes. Although most introduced species have little adverse impact, some cause major problems through their spread and ability to transform native ecosystems, frequently causing extensive losses of native biodiversity in the process. These are called invasive alien species. In Hawai’i invasive alien species have caused, and continue to cause harm to the survival of native species, as well as to ecosystem services such as pollination and watershed productivity, production of food and forest commodities, water quality, and public health, all of which impact the local economies and quality of life.

Hawaiʻi imports most of its food, fuel, and construction and consumer goods via marine and air transportation.  It is by these means that most invasive alien species are imported into the state from the US mainland and other countries.  The vast majority of incoming goods are not inspected for pests; ballast water compliance is unverified; and, there are no rules in place to mitigate the risk of biofouling organisms on vessels’ hulls. Thus, introductions of invasive alien species have been facilitated by gaps in biosecurity programs for the prevention, detection, and isolation of potentially problematic alien species.

Two examples of major invasive species and impacts are the Little Fire Ant and Miconia:

Little Fire Ants (Wasmannia auropunctata; also known as the electric ant) are stinging ants that impact public health and quality of life.  They have also affected invertebrate and wild animal populations, and promoted scale insects which in turn impact agricultural crops and plants. Since 1999 Little Fire Ants have spread to over 4,000 locations on the island of Hawaiʻi and have even been found in isolated locations on Kauaʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu Islands.  A 2013 study found that the economic impact of Little Fire Ants on Hawaiʻi Island is $194 million annually.  An immediate expenditure of $8 million in the next 2–3 years plus follow-up prevention, monitoring, and mitigation treatments will yield $1.210 billion in reduced control costs and $129 million in lowered economic damages, over 10 years. It will not, however, result in eradication.

Miconia calvescens is a plant which can form monotypic stands by outcompeting native plants for light, space, and water resources.  Its large leaves collect and then deposit large water drops that cause soil erosion, and its shallow root system may further destabilize slopes and promote erosion through enhanced run-off.  Economic damage by Miconia in Hawai‘i is estimated at $672 million annually, mainly in lost groundwater recharge and decreased valuation of habitat invaded by Miconia.

Despite the many invasive species already present in Hawai‘i, many more potentially invasive alien species are not yet present.  Greatly enhanced biosecurity measures could prevent new devastating invasive pests from arriving and becoming established.  For instance, the annual economic impact to Hawai‘i if Red Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) become established is estimated at $211 million, while that of Brown Tree Snakes (Boiga irregularis) is estimated at $2.14 billion.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture, the agency charged with preventing the introduction and establishment of plants, animals and diseases that are detrimental to the state’s agriculture industry and the environment, receives a mere 0.5% of the state budget.  The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, the agency that is charged with protecting aquatic and terrestrial resources fares little better at 1% of the budget.  A third agency, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, also plays a role in protecting Hawaiʻi by its vector control and disease monitoring activities.  For example, the mosquito vectors for West Nile virus (WNV) which is having severe impacts on bird populations on the mainland are widespread in Hawai’i and there is no disease-free winter. The DoH’s mosquito monitoring program has, however, experienced budget cuts that have reduced a program supporting hundreds of monitoring traps at all ports and key detection sites on Oʻahu to just four at Honolulu International Airport.

In Summary:

  • Hawaiʻi is one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, with the highest rates of endemism in the world;
  • Hawaiʻi’s plants and floral communities are the most threatened in the United States, but receive a tiny fraction of all US endangered species funds;
  • Hawaiʻi’s remaining biodiversity is increasingly threatened by invasive alien species;
  • Despite multiple federal and state agencies mandated to address invasive alien species, there are still major gaps in funding, resources, and priorities;
  • Many elements of an effective Biosecurity Plan are already in place, but leaders and funding need to be identified to take this forward.

We, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation representing >850 scientists and conservationists from 64 nations including the United States of America, urge the State of Hawaii and U.S. government to:

  • Secure significant, long-term final staffing commitments by the public, business leaders, and policymakers for addressing key policy, resource, and infrastructure needs to limit the establishment and mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species in Hawaiʻi.
  • Establish effective and fully-functioning quarantine inspection facilities at all major airports on all islands and at Honolulu Harbor.
  • Commit to the establishment, funding, and implementation of a long-term plan to counter invasive alien species.
  • Take full and immediate advantage of the state’s 2050 Sustainability Plan, the Regional Biosecurity Plan, and the Aloha + Challenge targets on reversing the trend of natural resource loss.
  • Fully engage the institutional expertise represented in state and federal agencies, universities, NGOs, and business and policy stakeholders to work together to craft, support, and implement a Hawaiʻi Biosecurity Plan.

(Link to PDF: ATBC-resolution25-Hawaiian-Invasives)

ATBC 2015 Honolulu Declaration in Support of Cultural and Biological Restoration of Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Archipelago is one of the most important, unique and biodiverse hotspots of the world, with approximately ninety percent of its native flowering plants occurring nowhere else, approximately fifty percent of which are endangered with extinction. The natural beauty, diversity, and richness of the native landscape are under threat, as are the cultural practices of the native Hawaiian people that developed in concert with these natural treasures. Kaho‘olawe Island is also culturally and spiritually important to many peoples, and especially to the Kanaka Maoli-people of native Hawaiian ancestry.

Kaho‘olawe Island was used for 52 years (1941-1993) by the U.S. Navy as a “training ground,” primarily as a bombing range for target practice. President George W. Bush stopped the bombing in 1990, and President William J. Clinton returned the island to the State of Hawaii in 1994. The island, upon its return, was to be “held in trust for a Hawaiian entity.” Following a necessary 10-year period of ordnance removal, the final control of access to Kaho‘olawe was transferred to the State of Hawai‘i in 2003. The island was then placed under the administration of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC). Today, KIRC is responsible for the restoration and sustainable management of the island until it can be transferred to a native Hawaiian entity. These are the first lands that were to be returned to the native Hawaiian people for sovereign maintenance, and represent an important precedent for the potential return of other territories to their original owners.

Initial funds for restoration of Kaho‘olawe Island were allocated by Congress after considerable lobbying by former Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka. These funds (US$400 million) were meant to rid the island of unexploded ordnance. The Navy was responsible for clearing ordnance from the entire surface of the island and twenty-five percent of the ground’s subsurface, to a depth of four feet. US$44 million of the funds secured by Sen. Akaka were allocated to KIRC’s management and restoration of the island, and the State issued an emergency US$1 million to keep KIRC in operation for another two years. All funds were exhausted in early 2015, but the island has only been partially restored.

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10436 in 1953, reserving the right of the US military to use Kaho‘olawe as a training facility, the order clearly stated several obligations, including the “eradication of cloven hooved animals” and, upon return of the island to Hawai‘i, “render such area….reasonably safe for human habitation, without cost to the Territory.” These obligations have not been met. Twenty-five percent of the land surface remains to be cleared of ordnance and only one-third of the promised subsurface area has been cleared to date.

In addition to the removal of ordnance, efforts to manage and restore the island have been insufficient. The budget shortfall for the operation of the island is at a critical point as the State is now considering opening the island for commercial activity to generate funds. This plan is in direct conflict with the State’s mandate to hold the island in trust for a sovereign Hawaiian entity, as any revenues generated from that trust should belong to said entity.

Because neither clean-up nor ecological restoration has been completed, the US military and US government have failed in their commitment to fully remediate the island before returning it to the State of Hawaii. The lack of commitment to the restoration of the island is resulting in extensive soil erosion. The State estimates that Kaho‘olawe loses 1.9 million tons of soil each year, increasing the cost of restoration and continually damaging marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Issues of social justice are also embedded in the issue of providing sufficient restoration funds. Native Hawaiians who cared deeply for Kaho’olawe fought, and in some cases died, to ensure that the island is returned to them in its pre-military condition. Such persons as George Helm, Kimo Mitchell, Emmett Aluli, and Walter Ritte are widely-recognized for their important roles. These native Hawaiians, and others, were the original creators of the non-profit Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (PKO) which eventually facilitated the termination of the bombing and the return of the island. The PKO (which operates on a very limited budget) has obtained rights for access to native Hawaiians to conduct cultural practices, and continues to engage Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian people and student groups in cultural and biological restoration of the island.

WE the 107 scientists from Hawai‘i, 149 scientists from 35 other states in the USA, and 256 scientists from 49 other countries who attended the meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) held in Honolulu from 13 – 16 July, 2015, organized under the main theme of Resilience of Island Systems in the Context of Climate Change: Challenges for Biological and Cultural diversity and Conservation:

Recognize that the cultural and biological restoration of Kaho‘olawe Island continues to be a major conservation and socio-ecological issue in Hawai‘i, and has implications in the United States for the US government’s obligations to its states and its indigenous peoples.

Understand that to uphold the original proclamations and guarantees of the US Government, additional funds are required immediately for the continued restoration and management of the biocultural integrity of the island. These monies should include adequate resources to eliminate the remaining feral animals from the island, to conduct biological restoration of the island to a level that greatly reduces the negative impacts of erosion, to make the island “suitable for human habitation”, and to provide an endowment that will allow the State of Hawai‘i, at no cost to itself, to maintain minimal management of the island for as long as is needed before ceding the island to a sovereign Hawaiian entity. We estimate these total funds to be approximately US$1 billion.

The ATBC makes the following recommendations:

  1. The State Fund (or equivalent funds petitioned from the US military) be made available for the full remediation and biocultural restoration of the island;
  2. The US military provide at least US$700 million to complete the environmental clean-up, and remove all remaining ordnance;
  3. The US military provide at least US$300 million to mitigate erosion, restore the native flora, and eliminate invasive animals (feral cats, rats, cloven-hooved animals, etc.).

The full biocultural restoration of Kaho’olawe is important not only for Hawai‘i and native Hawaiians, but as a model for how restoration could be achieved following demilitarisation anywhere in the world.

16 July 2015, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, USA

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