The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosted more than 1,100 participants this week for the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance’s 23rd Annual Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference (HCC), entitled “Hanohano Hawaiʻi Kuauli: Celebrating Collaboration Ecosystems” and held on campus August 3-6.

“The conference is always an inspiring event,” says Sharon Ziegler-Chong, co-chair of the HCC 2015 local organizing committee. “The coming together of resource managers, members of the community, and scientists to share information, discovery, challenges and ideas provides a rich fabric for this four-day conference.”

This year’s theme focused on bringing people together to strengthen collaborative stewardship of island resources into the future. Conservationists and others dedicated to the protection of Hawaiʻi’s ecosystems from across the state attended presentations and field sessions, and listened to a host of plenary speakers. The purpose was to bring together different perspectives and knowledge to better understand how to steward communities and resources.

“It is a fantastic conference,” says Don Price, an evolutionary biologist at UH Hilo. “I especially like to see the collaborations continuing to expand between scientists from federal, state and non-government organizations, together with faculty and students from the universities and most importantly here at UH Hilo.”

The conference is usually held in Honolulu but this year came to Hilo, giving local conservationists and others in the community the opportunity to showcase the many conservation projects underway on Hawaiʻi Island.

Misaki Takabayashi, a marine scientist at UH Hilo and a haʻakūmālae Hawaiian protocol committee member for the conference, says that over the years, HCC has led the way to proactively discuss conservation from a multitude of perspectives that exist in Hawaiʻi today. “This year’s conference has seen more seamless integration between western and Native Hawaiian sciences and approaches,” she explains. “This is great to see because we only have one Hawaiʻi that will feed and sustain us now and in the future, and we need all the tools.”

For the full story and more photos, go to the UH Hilo Stories website.

—By Susan Enright