Tick tick tick. . . . No, it’s not your biological clock—it’s ours. The Earth is in big trouble, environmentally speaking, and it’s time to wake up and rub the sleep from our eyes. Well, not everyone is sleeping. In this issue, we celebrate those individuals who wake up every day ready to malama ‘aina (care for the land).
And we have a lot to thank them for. Hawai‘i’s ecosystems aren’t just important to the beauty of our home environment; they are important to the entire world. Scientists have described our plants and animals as some of the most extraordinary on Earth. But so is our rate of loss. For example, nearly two-thirds of Hawai‘i’s original forest cover is already gone, including 50 percent of our rain forests. A frightening fact of paradise.
And here’s another: Hawai‘i has earned the dubious title of Endangered Species Capital of the World. The Hawaiian Archipelago, blessed with the world’s highest percentage of unique plants and animals, is also home to more endangered species per square mile than any other place on the planet. And although these Islands occupy less than .2 percent of the total U.S. landmass, we account for more than 72 percent of extinctions and nearly 30 percent of the endangered species list nationally!
Numbers like these are all too familiar to Rene Sylva, a native Hawaiian who has worked tirelessly over the past 40 years to bring awareness of and protection to Hawai‘i’s threatened native plants. Then there are the Bennetts, Peter and Ursula, whose concern over our green sea turtles, and in particular a young charmer named Clothahump, transformed them from tourists into turtle activists. Yet there have been long-term successes, among them enigmatic Pu‘u Kukui, an ancient rain forest that remains pristine, thanks to the vigilant stewardship of landowner Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc.
This is a special issue that comes from the heart, with the entire staff personally involved. Which is why I have to admit being stung when, just a few months ago, one of our editors asked, “What are we doing for the environment?” “Well,” I huffed, and began my litany of the stirring articles we had planned. “No,” she challenged, “I mean what are we, as a company, doing?” My heart sank as I clutched our shiny magazine closer to my chest—not our bright, white paper! But she was right.
I’m proud to announce that Maui No Ka ‘Oi is now printed on recycled paper, and not a moment too soon. Tick tick tick. . . .
A hui hou,
Diane Haynes Woodburn
Publisher, Maui No Ka ‘Oi