State opens up interactive virtual tours, donations for endangered natural areas

The Maui News

Nature lovers can help protect endangered natural areas of Hawaii by taking an online tour and making a donation on Giving Tuesday through the state’s new online portal, the Department of Land and Natural Resources announced.

The new interactive tour showcases the 23 Natural Area Reserves System sites across Hawaii, which range from the world’s only glaciated tropical alpine lake atop Mauna Kea to oceanic and coastal environments. The reserves also include tropical rainforests and are home to rare and endemic plants and animals. While the reserves are generally open, many are seldom visited because they are incredibly remote, steep and rugged.

The reserves seek to protect both the endangered species and the ecosystems they rely on and have the highest levels of protection in the state.

Anyone can explore the reserves through the online tour and make a contribution through the state’s online donation portal, a first for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Donations made through the portal are deposited into a state trust fund and will support conservation actions in the Natural Area Reserves including planting native trees or removing invasive species.

Giving Tuesday typically takes place the week after Thanksgiving as a way for people to make donations to nonprofits and other causes following one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

As in-person volunteer opportunities have been rare in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online tour and donation system provide an alternative way for individuals to learn more about these areas and support local conservation work, DLNR said in a news release Tuesday.

“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. “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 Hawaii so strikingly precious.”

For those interested in donating as a gift in someone’s name, gift cards featuring native landscapes and species can be downloaded. People interested in taking the online tour and using the donation tool can visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/nars/donate/.


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