The idea is simple: Take a virtual tour of Hawaii’s beautiful nature reserves, and if you want to help preserve them, offer an online donation.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Tuesday a new program ahead of Giving Tuesday next week offering nature lovers a “new donation opportunity to give back to the land.”
Through an online portal, DLNR will offer interactive, photographic tours of 23 Natural Area Reserves across Hawaii. The state established the Natural Area Reserves System to offer the highest levels of protection to Hawaii’s unique ecosystems that are home to rare, endemic plants and animals — many of which are on the edge of extinction.
The tours range from an alpine lake atop Mauna Kea to anchialine pools and tropical rainforests, waterfalls and close-ups of Hawaii’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 growing only knee-high.
The 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 offers people a glimpse of 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 in the reserves such as the removal of invasive species and the planting of native trees.
“When we lose our native species, there is also a cultural loss of knowledge and experience that has enriched generations of people,” said Emma Yuen, manager of the Native Ecosystems Protection and Management Program, in a news release. “Many of these lands have been regarded as sacred for centuries, and it is an honor to work to protect them from further loss. The donation feature allows anyone the chance to meaningfully join in the protection of what makes Hawai‘i so strikingly precious.”
DLNR said this opportunity was developed as an alternative to in-person volunteer activities, which have been scaled back this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These virtual tours offer an opportunity to learn more about the reserves as well as to support local conservation work from home.
People can also donate a gift in someone’s name, then download gift cards. Charitable donations to states are tax-deductible.
The online tours and donation forms are available at dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/nars/donate.