Land Department Offers Hawaii Nature Reserves Online Tours In Exchange For Donations

The idea is simple: take a virtual tour of Hawaii’s beautiful nature reserves, and if you want to help preserve them, donate online.

The State Department of Lands and Natural Resources on Tuesday announced a new program ahead of Giving Tuesday next week, offering nature lovers a “new donation opportunity to give back to the earth.”

Through an online portal, DLNR will offer interactive photo tours of 23 nature reserves across Hawaii. The state created the nature reserve system to provide the highest levels of protection for Hawaii’s unique ecosystems that are home to rare and endemic plants and animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction.

Tours range from an alpine lake atop Mauna Kea to anchialine pools and tropical rainforests, waterfalls, and close-ups of Hawaiian’s brightly colored native birds, animals and snails. There are also unique forests of stunted native ohia trees that are hundreds of years old but only grow knee deep.

Reserves are generally open to the public, but many are in incredibly remote, steep and rugged areas that limit the number of visitors. The online tour gives people a glimpse into some of Hawaii’s “most rarely seen and pristine features,” DLNR said.

Donations will be deposited into a state trust fund to support conservation actions on reserves such as removing invasive species and planting native trees.

“When we lose our native species, there is also a cultural loss of knowledge and experiences that has enriched generations of people,” said Emma Yuen, program manager for the protection and management of native ecosystems, in a statement. Press. “Much of this land has been considered sacred for centuries, and it is an honor to work to protect it from further loss. The donation feature allows anyone to make a meaningful contribution to protecting what makes Hawai’i so precious.

DLNR said this opportunity was developed as an alternative to in-person volunteer activities, which have been curtailed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These virtual tours provide an opportunity to learn more about the reserves as well as support local home conservation work.

People can also donate on behalf of someone and then download gift cards. Charitable donations to states are tax deductible.

To be involved

Online tours and donation forms are available at dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/nars/donate.

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