Ecosystem Effects Roadshow
The newest Coastal Resilience application, Ecosystem Effects of Sea Level Rise, went on road trip around the island of Hawai‘i last June 12-16th. The goal: to get feedback on the innovative technology that allows users to visualize sea level rise scenarios and potential impacts on Hawaii’s unique anchialine pool ecosystems home to endemic species like ‘Opae ‘Ula, Halocaradina rubra, and many other rare and endemic species.
The app allows users to select specific geographies and scenarios along a section of West Hawai‘i coastline to evaluate risk to these important ecosystems and restoration potential through either invasive species removal or additional land protection.
TNC staff presented the tool to groups including Hawai’i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawai‘i County Planning Department, National Parks Service offices, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, and the Kohanaiki Development Corporation. The tool was well received by these groups, and they shared excitement and renewed respect for the highly valued anchialine pools. “Very excited to have a tool that will assist government and community planning for the effects of sea level rise! I wish we had this for the whole island,” shared Rick Gmirkin, an Archaeologist for the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail that is responsible for protecting, restoring, maintaining, and interpreting cultural and historic features on the island. County planning staff recognized the value of considering current and future anchialine pool locations when making planning decisions.
This road trip was also valuable for the TNC staff behind the application as well. “It’s exciting to see how people become empowered by using the app. I’ve seen discouraged natural resource managers with limited resources get really excited when they find places where small actions today are likely to protect current and future habitat. They see that they can do something meaningful to take care of Hawai‘i’s imperiled ecosystems with the resources they already have, ” reflected Chad Wiggins, TNC.
Moving forward, TNC staff and partners plan to continue to present and train stakeholders on how to best use the app. The application will be used to inform the upcoming revisions to the South Kohala Conservation Action Plan, a collaborative document that guides work by over 30 partners designed to improve the health of coastal and marine life through actions on land and in the water.