Community-Based Conservation: A Tradition of Connecting People and Place

Man is a part of nature, and both can thrive when we are working together in harmony. Indigenous cultures around the world have recognized, honored, and cultivated this delicate interconnection between people and place for generations. At Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, this practice of collectively caring for our natural and cultural resources continues through our community-based conservation efforts. We believe that valuable knowledge is gained through hands-on experience, and that the lands of Hawaii offer unique lessons to those who care for them.

HILT connects residents and visitors to special places on our preserves across Hawai‘i. We envision a Hawaii that makes the tradition of mālama āina a way of life. HILT’s education efforts seek to inform and connect people to place. Our efforts to understand, protect, and steward our lands reach from keiki to kupuna. We share the sites and stories of our wahi pana and participate in the collective nurturing of the āina. If you have not already, please come out to the land and be a part of this tradition.

Over 2,000 residents and visitors help in HILT’s ecological restoration efforts across the islands each year. They do so through corporate partnership programs, our popular Talk Story on the Land hikes, our regular volunteer days, or the āina-based education programs with one of the dozens of schools and educational organizations we host at our preserves. We are grateful to our partners for the privilege to protect and share these lands with them.

In 2017, this long list of partners included:


Since 2007, the Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge has served as an outdoor classroom for Pōmaikai Elementary School. Last year, we hosted over 500 students from Pōmaikai Elementary School, who learned about the Refuge, conservation practices, and the part they play continuing the centuries-old ethic of mālama āina.


Maunawila Heiau and Cultural Preserve is managed and cared for by a network of community groups, HILT, and local education institutions. In 2017, HILT’s community outreach manager and cultural anthropologist, Rebekah Walker, helped lead HILT’s community-based conservation partnership, and the coordination of our collective outreach and restoration efforts connecting over 2,000 participants in our efforts. We see community-based conservation in action every month at Maunawila, with regular volunteer work days, Talk Story on the Land hikes, and educational programming with many of the area schools and community.


HILT’s Kauai Island Council members participate in a broad public-private partnership that seeks to mālama the iconic Kāhili Beach Preserve on Kauai. Together with the Kīlauea Neighborhood Association, Āina Hookupu o Kīlauea, and United States Fish & Wildlife Service, community volunteers actively work to restore not just the land, but the local tradition of responsibly and sustainably caring for this precious resource. HILT is grateful to these stewards, who regularly come together to remove marine and other debris from Kāhili’s shores, clear invasive species, and ensure the continued resilience that a clean and beautiful ecosystem provides.


Hawaii’s natural areas provide abundant opportunities for community-based conservation. Connect with us as we grow these invaluable partnerships across the islands. Join us to learn and share lessons about the land, its history, and traditions, as we engage in their care, stewardship, and protection. We can’t do community-based conservation without you! We have many opportunities to share these lessons, so please click here for upcoming hikes, work days, and other special events.