Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hawai'i Natural Area Reserves System

Hawai`i contains unique natural resources, such as geological and volcanological features and distinctive marine and terrestrial plants and animals, many of which occur nowhere else in the world. These resources are highly vulnerable to loss by the growth of population and technology.

Ka'ena Point, Oahu 

In 1970, the Hawai`i State Legislature expressed the need to protect and preserve these unique natural assets, both for the enjoyment of future generations, and to provide base lines against which changes which are being made in the environments of Hawai`i can be measured.

 Mt. Ka'ala, Oahu

 To accomplish these purposes, the legislature decided that the present system of preserves, sanctuaries and refuges must be strengthened, and additional areas of land and shoreline suitable for preservation should be set aside and administered solely and specifically for the aforesaid purposes.

'Āhihi kīna'u NAR, Maui 

Thus, the statewide Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) was established to preserve in perpetuity specific land and water areas which support communities, as relatively unmodified as possible, of the natural flora and fauna, as well as geological sites, of Hawai`i.

Hono O Na Pali NAR, Kauai

The system presently consists of 19 reserves on five islands, encompassing more than 109,000 acres of the State's most unique ecosystems. The diverse areas found in the NARS range from marine and coastal environments to lava flows, tropical rainforests, and even an alpine desert. Within these areas one can find rare endemic plants and animals, many of which are on the edge of extinction. The reserves also protect some of the major watershed areas which provide our vital sources of fresh water.

 Mauna Kea Ice Age NAR, Hawai'i Island

The Natural Area Reserves System is administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Currently, management teams are working to control the encroachment of non-native plants and animals which threaten the existence of the natural biota on the reserves.

To learn more about the NARS, visit: http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/nars

All photos: DOFAW

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