225-acres of Prime Kealakekua Farmlands Protected in Perpetuity Hawaiian Islands Land Trust acquires second conservation easement from HCC Farms, LLC ensuring that the land will remain in agriculture

225-acres of Prime Kealakekua Farmlands Protected in Perpetuity Hawaiian Islands Land Trust acquires second conservation easement from HCC Farms, LLC ensuring that the land will remain in agriculture

KEALAKEKUA, HAWAII - June 30, 2017 - The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT) and Honolulu Coffee announced today that a second conservation easement protecting 150-acres of prime agricultural land situated above Kealakekua Bay and part of the Honolulu Coffee Company’s thriving coffee farm was sold to the land trust. 

Best defense is a good offense

In your lifetime the face of the islands has suffered dramatic change. Hawai‘i’s population has more than doubled and we’ve seen much of our paradise paved. Think of the urbanized areas around you that were once natural landscapes, productive farmlands, wide-open coasts. As we are painfully aware, once gone, they’re gone forever.

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is embarking on a more assertive conservation strategy for the future of our islands: identifying the most significant, threatened areas and actively pursuing their permanent protection.

Take inventory of the benefits that conservation land provides: places for us to connect with nature to surf, fish, hike, soak up the sun; clean air and drinking water; healthy native eco-systems, and so much more. Now think of the pristine places that, if developed, would leave an indelible scar on the heart of your community. We must work together to save these lands before it is too late!

With this in mind, we need to hear from you. Consider making a gift to Hawaiian Islands Land Trust today. Your gift directly equates to the strength with which we can pursue the active land conservation that Hawai‘i so desperately needs right now.

Show your support by giving online here. And please, jot down your ideas for the places in Hawai‘i that most need protection. Let us know why you value these areas and what their conservation would mean to you and the community at large. We value your opinions.

Yours in conservation,

Anders Lyons Interim Executive Director


Protecting the areas where we live, love, and build communities

  Protecting the Wao Kanaka: The Role of Hawaiian Islands Land Trust While there are a number of conservation organizations dedicated to the preservation of Hawai’i’s most pristine and remote areas, the Land Trust’s focus is on protecting the areas where people regularly connect with nature.

When the first Polynesians arrived in Hawai’i extensive forests stretched across virtually every island. They set about utilizing these natural resources to foster a strong and healthy community. Although these early settlers initiated significant changes to the landscape, their cultural paradigm of cooperation and reciprocity governed their interactions with both the human and natural world. These ideas of reciprocity and cooperation are embodied in the idea of aloha ‘aina, or love of land.

Expressed in a variety of ways, this connection was often described through the distinction between the wao kanaka and the wao akua. The wao kanaka constituted the lands, particularly the forested lands (wao), most accessible to the community and therefore providing the bulk of the material culture the Hawaiian people (kanaka) relied upon. Because of its critical importance to the life and well being of the community, caring for and conserving these resources became a critical part of Hawaiian culture. And, since human activity was most extensive in this region, the wao kanaka across Hawai’i is most marked by the evidence of past generations.

The wao akua (or forest of the gods) consisted of land not easily accessible by humans. As one author points out, Hawaiians understood the wao akua as a source of supernatural activity, remote, difficult to penetrate, and awesome. While excursions to the wao akua were relatively rare, it was in this realm that koa logs were harvested to become the canoes which united the various islands. It was also the place where forest bird feathers were collected to make the stunning capes worn by the ali‘i. For anyone who has spent time in the misty reaches of the wao akua, its power and influence does not soon leave you. Much important conservation work is taking place in the wao akua, with organizations HILT works closely and collaboratively with including the various watershed partnerships, the state of Hawai’i, and The Nature Conservancy.

HILT has protected some lands in the wao akua, but the bulk of our protected lands lie below. The wao kanaka, the areas where humans live, love, laugh and build strong communities, is where we cultivate our sense of aloha ‘aina. Conservation in these areas— through protection of agricultural lands, the cultural and historical sites that tell our stories, and our most threatened ecosystems—is vital to how we as a modern society continue to connect with the natural world. It is where we, as a community, must put our beliefs about our relationship to the land into action.

Protecting Our Working Ag Lands

Working ag lands, Hana Ranch, Maui As the conversation about Hawai‘i’s food sustainability hits a crescendo, here’s a ravishing idea: land conservation can play an increasingly vital role in securing—and forever protecting—agricultural lands for our working farms and ranches. In fact, of the 17,500 acres Hawaiian Islands Land Trust currently protects, 93% are agrarian.

Non-political by design, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is a non-profit organization committed to working with private landowners, community groups, community leaders and government partners to protect Hawai‘i’s precious places. Using a variety of tools, we help landowners integrate conservation into their land use plans in perpetuity.

Quite often the main barrier to sustaining agriculture in Hawai‘i is the price of land. Because of high demand for real estate, the cost of undeveloped land can be astronomically high—hundreds of times more than agricultural activity could economically support. Plus, with land values that have skyrocketed in the last few decades, it’s increasingly harder for family-run farms to pencil out paying hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars in property taxes. 

Conservation/ agricultural easements were used by Hana Ranch and Ulupalakua Ranch, both members of Maui Cattle Company, to protect their lands. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement in which the landowner permanently limits the type and amount of development that can take place on a parcel of land. This agreement requires the Land Trust to protect the land forever, even when ownership of the land changes. Sometimes, the Land Trust purchases a conservation easement. More often, however, a landowner will donate an easement in order to place protective restrictions on future uses of their land.

Please take a few minutes to enjoy this slideshow and learn about our work to preserve our island’s agricultural lands.