Aerial view of Mo'omomi Preserve, Moloka'i, Hawai'i © Richard A. Cooke III

Stories in Hawai'i

Kō i ka Pono: Carrying Out Our Mission

2019 Impact Report: Hawai‘i and Palmyra

Ulalia Woodside and Nate Smith Executive Director and Chair, Board of Trustees, Hawai'i program, respectively © Sean Marrs

When we ask our members why they support The Nature Conservancy, the answers inevitably vary. Many like our traditional emphasis on protecting lands and waters, others our expanded focus on climate change and providing food and water sustainably. Still others like how we blend sound science with traditional knowledge and use a non-confrontational approach. Dig deeper, however, and a common theme emerges: TNC is an organization that gets the job done. 

Here in Hawai‘i, our conservation goals are aligned with the State’s initiative to effectively manage 30 percent of our watershed forests and nearshore waters by 2030. A decade ago, only 10% of our mauka forests met that standard. Today, that figure is 17% and climbing—a jump TNC has played a lead role in making happen.

Currently, less than 4% of our nearshore waters are in strongly managed areas. But that also is changing as the State, with TNC support, engages local communities and stakeholders in effective management of important coastal areas.  

The scope and impact of our work are vast. This past year on Kaua‘i, we employed an aerial surveying team to detect and respond to new infestations of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. In Windward O‘ahu, we are working with partners to restore a traditional ahupuaʻa using the latest science and traditional agricultural practices. And on Palmyra Atoll, 1,000 miles south of Hawai‘i, we are focusing our research around finding solutions to the climate crisis.

Your contributions make all this work possible. Thanks to you, we are making a real difference for the future of our island home. When you read this report, you should feel proud of that fact. We certainly do.

Mahalo a nui loa.

2019 By the Numbers

  • drone

    17 Innovative Technologies

    such as drones and infrared imaging used to increase the scope, pace and economic efficiency of our work.

  • Coastal communities

    51 Coastal Communities

    TNC supported to develop and implement conservation action plans and monitor water quality, coral reefs and fisheries.

  • marine

    92% of TNC Marine Fellowship Graduates

    now working in marine conservation.

  • government

    230 Government, Non-Profit and Community Partners

    we collaborate with in Hawai‘i and on Palmyra.

  • media

    480 Stories

    about TNC’s work in Hawai‘i featured in local, national and international media outlets.

  • coral reef

    5,000 Sites

    analyzed using 20 years of data to determine changes in West Maui coral reefs and their resilience to climate impacts.

  • volunteers

    19,218 Volunteer Hours

    donated to outplant native species, restore fishponds, remove weeds, clean beaches and test water quality.

  • protected lands

    27,000 TNC Preserve Acres

    fenced and free of destructive feral animals like pigs and goats.

  • palm trees

    100,000 Introduced Coconut Palm Seedlings

    removed as a first step in restoring Palmyra’s native rainforest.

  • cattails

    139,455 Weeds

    treated or removed from TNC lands to increase the resilience of native forests, wetlands and coastal areas.

  • water stewardship

    211,689 Acres

    under TNC stewardship, including preserves and watershed partnership lands we manage.

  • funding

    $18 Million

    in state funding secured with partners for conservation, watershed management and invasive species control and research.

Our Priorities

Aerial view of West Maui, from ridges to reef.
West Maui Aerial view of West Maui, from ridges to reef. © Lyle Krannichfeld

Protecting Lands and Waters 

Hawai‘i’s native forests are irreplaceable natural, cultural and economic assets that supply us with fresh water and a host of other benefits. By applying our conservation experience, scientific knowledge and technical expertise to their protection, TNC is removing the threats to the long-term survival of these vital natural systems. 

A marine monitoring and research team studies coral reefs and reef life at Palmyra Atoll.
Palmyra Researchers A marine monitoring and research team studies coral reefs and reef life at Palmyra Atoll. © Tim Calver

Tackling Climate Change 

Hawai‘i is witnessing an increase in climate change impacts such as higher temperatures, coral bleaching, sea-level rise and severe storms. TNC is the world’s leading organization in advancing resilience-based climate science and management. In Hawai‘i and Palmyra, we are working to enhance the resilience of natural systems like our coral reefs and focusing scientific research around natural climate solutions.

Replanted taro field in He'eia, Windward O'ahu.
Restoring Taro Replanted taro field in He'eia, Windward O'ahu. © Grady Timmons/TNC

Providing Food and Water Sustainably

Healthy fisheries and traditional agricultural systems can provide island communities with sustainable sources of food. TNC is partnering with motivated communities that are implementing traditional management systems to restore taro lo‘i, fishponds and nearshore fisheries that will increase local food security.

The Power of Partnerships

Members of the Haleakala Pine Pull Partnership
Haleakala Partnership Members of the Haleakala Pine Pull Partnership © Bryan Berkowitz
A view of the South Kohala coastline, Hawai'i
South Kohala coast A view of the South Kohala coastline, Hawai'i © TNC

TNC led more than 50 government, non-profit and community partners through a comprehensive planning process to develop the first climate-smart conservation action plan for Hawai‘i Island’s South Kohala coast.

TNC is working with partners to put the endangered 'akikiki on the road to recovery.
'Akikiki TNC is working with partners to put the endangered 'akikiki on the road to recovery. © Jacob Drucker

To date, 45 endangered ‘akikiki have been raised in captivity for release onto TNC-managed lands on Kaua‘i. Eight different organizations are involved, led by the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project, San Diego Zoo Global and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The native ae'o (Hawaiian stilt) has returned to the He‘eia wetlands.
Ae'o The native ae'o (Hawaiian stilt) has returned to the He‘eia wetlands. © Sean Marrs

Native wetland birds like the ae’o (Hawaiian stilt) have returned to He‘eia in windward O‘ahu after the estuary was cleared of invasive mangrove. TNC, the State, the University of Hawai‘i, NOAA, Paepae o He‘eia, and Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi are among the partners restoring this iconic ahupua‘a.

emerges from its burrow at The Nature Conservancy's Mo'omomi Preserve on Moloka'i in Hawaii.
A wedge-tailed shearwater emerges from its burrow at The Nature Conservancy's Mo'omomi Preserve on the island of Moloka'i. © Debbie Delatour

Wedgetail shearwater nests at our Mo‘omomi Preserve on Moloka‘i have increased from two to 2,000 thanks to our partnership with the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, Moloka‘i Land Trust and others.  

Volunteers collect debris for removal.
Halawa cleanup Volunteers collect debris for removal. © TNC

Over 14.5 tons of marine debris were removed from Hālawa in East Moloka‘i by the State, TNC, Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i, Pono Pacific and the Hawai‘i Youth Conservation Corps.

Signs point out rest area locations.
'Opihi rest area Signs point out rest area locations. © TNC

Community-led voluntary rest areas on Maui have helped to increase ʻopihi populations as much as tenfold in some areas, with TNC developing outreach materials and training partners to measure changes over time.

Researchers examine one of the key fish species under study.
Fishing for science Researchers examine one of the key fish species under study. © Grady Timmons/TNC

Together with the University of California, Santa Barbara, TNC is analyzing catch-and-release fishing data for five key fish species at Palmyra Atoll and measuring the overall impact to the nearshore marine environment. The project can inform sustainable management of fishing at similar ecosystems throughout the Pacific.

  • Ko i ka Pono, 2019 Impact Report, Hawai'i and Palmyra

    2019 Impact Report

    Download a copy of our impact report to learn more about our work in 2019.


Make a Difference in Hawai'i

From mauka to makai, The Nature Conservancy works with people like you to protect Hawaii’s spectacular diversity of life. We invite you to join the effort. Together, we can protect the plants and animals that share our world and help keep alive what is best in our own lives.