SOEST Earth scientists honored with Climate Adaptation Leadership Award

Two SOEST faculty members were selected to receive a 2023 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources. Haunani Kane, Earth Sciences assistant professor, and Chip Fletcher, professor and SOEST interim Dean, were recognized in the “Distinguished Leader” category for demonstrating exemplary leadership in reducing climate-related threats and promoting adaptation of the nation’s natural resources. 

Fish, wildlife, and plant resources provide billions of dollars in economic activity, millions of jobs, and many other important benefits and services to Americans every year including food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism, and recreation. The award, established in 2016, acknowledges the leadership of individuals, organizations, businesses, and agencies that are reducing impacts on and advancing the resilience of our nation’s valuable resources in a changing climate. 

“It has been an amazing opportunity to work and learn alongside U.S. Fish and Wildlife Society,” said Kane. “They are doing the most important work managing critical resources across the main Hawaiian islands and Papahānaumokuākea.”

Kane and Fletcher “have made substantial contributions toward helping Hawaiʻi plan for climate change,” noted the selection committee in the award notification. They “both dedicate their careers to researching impacts from sea level rise and climate change on Hawaiʻiʻs ecosystems and both urban and rural communities. They meet with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists whenever asked and share their knowledge freely. Drs. Fletcher and Kane enthusiastically provide the most current data and expert guidance to Service biologists in Hawaiʻi regarding strategies to apply the RAD framework to address challenges in managing coastal wetlands that supports four listed waterbirds species and provide myriad benefits to many urban and rural coastal communities adjacent to these wetlands.”

“One of the great things about resource management in Hawai‘i is the close relationship between scientists at the University of Hawai‘i and resource managers throughout the islands,” said Fletcher. “This means that the latest scientific understanding underpins management decisions.”

The award is sponsored and guided by the Steering Committee of the Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards which is made up of representatives from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Climate Adaptation Network; and partners including the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, and Federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Kane and Fletcher were honored with this award at a hybrid awards ceremony on September 25 held in conjunction with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting.