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Posted on Nov 16, 2020 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

Community input sought on designating an area for native ecosystem protection


(Honolulu) – A roughly 1,260-acre parcel in Waiea, on Hawai‘i island is being proposed as an addition to the Hawai‘i Natural Area Reserve (NAR) System. The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will hold a virtual hearing at 6:00 p.m. on November 30, 2020 to receive community testimony about this proposal. The area is contiguous to other land parcels that are under management for forest, wildlife, and water conservation, and its addition would strengthen native ecosystem protection in the South Kona area.

The inclusion of Waiea in the NAR System would set aside the area for the purposes of protecting the native forest. Waiea is home to birds, insects, and plants that are rare, and not found anywhere else in the world. The NAR system seeks to keep these forests as intact as possible, to preserve plants and wildlife that evolved over millennia to become unique to the islands. Protection of these species perpetuates the cultural practices that evolved with these ancient landscapes. These native Hawaiian forests absorb rain, providing life-giving water, while reducing erosion into the beaches and reefs below.

The proposed NAR is approximately 1.5 miles mauka (upland) of where Highway 11 (Mamalahoa Hwy) intersects with Ho‘okena Beach Road. While NARs are generally open to everyone for hiking and nature study, this area is currently landlocked by adjacent private land, so currently there is no access to this area.

People unable to attend or who want to present additional comments may mail written testimony received no later than December 4, 2020 to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Attn: Emma Yuen, 1151 Punchbowl St., Rm. 325, Honolulu HI, 96813, or via email to [email protected].

Copies of the nomination and a map of the area are available for inspection by contacting the address above. Anyone may testify or present information at the open hearing. If you require auxiliary aids (taped materials or sign language interpreter), please request assistance 10 working days prior to the date of the hearing by calling (808) 587-4170.

The virtual meeting will take place via Zoom (

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

Figure 1: Topographic map of the proposed Waiea Natural Area Reserve.

Figure 2: ‘Ōhi‘and uluhe-dominated vegetation at the proposed Waiea Natural Area Reserve.

Figure 3: ‘Ōhi‘a forest in the proposed Natural Area Reserve.

Figure 4: ‘Ōhi‘a forest in the proposed Natural Area Reserve.

Figure 5: Natural landscape in the proposed Natural Area Reserve.

Figure 6: ‘Ōhi‘a forest stand in the proposed Natural Area Reserve.

Media Contact:

AJ McWhorter

Communications Specialist
Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources
[email protected]
808-587-0396 (Communications Office)