When Vasanti Fithian moved back to her native California after six years in Hawai‘i, she purchased a vacation home in Honolulu. “Originally I was planning to leave the property to the Conservancy at my death. But this year I wanted to simplify my life, so I decided to put the property to work for preservation immediately,” she says. Enthusiastic about a groundbreaking Conservancy program, she donated the condominium to help protect rare species on Kaua‘i.
Vasanti and her husband Joel, an agronomist, saw how dominant non-native plants such as Australian tree fern and strawberry guava—spread by another alien species, feral pigs—have become: “The need for control is immediate and urgent,” she says. “You have to go deep into the forest to see the native birds.” Yet for conservationists, mapping mountainous regions was slow and inefficient—until the summer of 2008, when the Conservancy began testing a remote sensing technology that uses plane-mounted cameras to highlight invasive plants.
Combining this breakthrough mapping technology with new, state-of-the-art, aerial weed control methods that remove invasive plants with surgical precision, alien species can be removed without damaging native forest.
Working with Conservancy Gift Planners, Vasanti found a creative way to structure her gift of real estate to support this practical plan: She divided the gift of the condominium into two parts—a gift to be used in the present to help fund the pilot project mapping 80,000 forest acres, and a charitable gift annuity for later.
“The Conservancy has so much real estate experience, they’ve made the process smooth,” Vasanti says.
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