Nature Conservancy Launches Hawai'i Challenge

Crowdsourcing Campaign Will Aid Island's Native Forests

HONOLULU, HI | June 17, 2014

The Nature Conservancy is launching the Hawai‘i Challenge, a crowdsourcing campaign to help save the islands’ remaining native forests.

Less than 50% of Hawai‘i’s native forests still thrive in high-elevation, remote areas of our islands, but they are threatened by invasive weeds and other human impacts. The Hawai‘i Challenge targets two plants that started as ornamentals, but have become invasive: the Australian tree fern and the African tulip tree.

Through DigitalGlobe’s online crowdsourcing platform, Tomnod, anyone can contribute to saving native Hawaii’s forests by tagging the locations of invasive weeds in high resolution aerial images. Visit to start.

“Crowd participation to identify weed locations in remote, dense Hawaiian rainforest will help us do our job to protect perhaps the most precious resource the forest provides – our fresh water,” said Jason Sumiye, director of Landscape Science for the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i.

By crowdsourcing the project, staff in Hawai‘i are hoping to identify the number and location of these invasive plants much more quickly than they could on their own, as well as provide a quality check to the individual currently doing the image analysis. 

“The crowd can take our analysis ability from one person to thousands of people, by sharing the images online through DigitalGlobe’s Tomnod platform,” Sumiye said. “We look forward to the help of armchair conservationists everywhere.” 

DigitalGlobe is best known for its work with rescue and response crises like the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. This is their first environmental project.

“DigitalGlobe’s purpose is 'Seeing a Better World™.' Using all of our tools to make the world better lines up with the Nature Conservancy’s goal to protect nature and preserve life,” explains Luke Barrington, senior manager of Geospatial Big Data with DigitalGlobe.

“We’ve had a huge response to global problems in the past and we’re eager to engage our volunteers to solve new types of problems,” he said.

This project uses high resolution aerial photography of 3,000 acres of Kauai’s remote rainforests purchased by the Conservancy from our partner, Resource Mapping Hawaii (RMH). If successful, the Conservancy has thousands more acres-- and images -- to analyze from across the state from our work with RMH.  

 About DigitalGlobe

DigitalGlobe is a leading provider of commercial high-resolution earth observation and advanced geospatial solutions that help decision makers better understand our changing planet in order to save lives, resources and time. Sourced from the world's leading constellation, our imagery solutions deliver unmatched coverage and capacity to meet our customers' most demanding mission requirements. Each day customers in defense and intelligence, public safety, civil agencies, map making and analysis, environmental monitoring, oil and gas exploration, infrastructure management, navigation technology, and providers of location-based services depend on DigitalGlobe data, information, technology and expertise to gain actionable insight.

Tomnod Mission

The Tomnod mission is to utilize the power of crowdsourcing to identify objects and places in satellite images. We created this web app with thousands of volunteers (like you!) in mind. Use our satellite images to explore the Earth, solve real-world problems, and view amazing images of our changing planet. We then compare each team member's findings with another to accurately understand the challenge at hand.

Resource Mapping Hawaii

Resource Mapping Hawaii (RMH) offers a suite of data products for environmental monitoring and mapping in a cost-effective and timely manner. We specialize in the acquisition, processing and analysis of ultra-high resolution ortho-imagery from both manned and unmanned aerial systems: airplanes, helicopters and UAVs. RMH is the product of years of research conducted by Stephen Ambagis and Dana Slaymaker in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy in Hawai'i, the United States Geological Survey, and Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.  We are a small company, locally owned and run.  


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Evelyn Wight
Senior Communications Manager
(808) 587-6277


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