Hawai`i contains unique natural resources, such as geological and volcanological features and distinctive marine and terrestrial plants and animals, many of which occur nowhere else in the world. These resources are highly vulnerable to loss by the growth of population and technology.
In 1970, the Hawai`i State Legislature expressed the need to protect and preserve these unique natural assets, both for the enjoyment of future generations, and to provide base lines against which changes which are being made in the environments of Hawai`i can be measured.
To accomplish these purposes, the legislature decided that the present system of preserves, sanctuaries and refuges must be strengthened, and additional areas of land and shoreline suitable for preservation should be set aside and administered solely and specifically for the aforesaid purposes.
Thus, the statewide Natural Area Reserves System was established to preserve in perpetuity specific land and water areas which support communities, as relatively unmodified as possible, of the natural flora and fauna, as well as geological sites, of Hawai`i.
The system presently consists of 20 reserves on five islands, encompassing 123,431 acres of the State's most unique ecosystems. The diverse areas found in the NARS range from marine and coastal environments to lava flows, tropical rainforests, and even an alpine desert. Within these areas one can find rare endemic plants and animals, many of which are on the edge of extinction.
The reserves also protect some of the major watershed areas which provide our vital sources of fresh water.
The Natural Area Reserves System is administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Currently, management teams are working to control the encroachment of non-native plants and animals which threaten the existence of the natural biota on the reserves. To learn more about how the NARS are being managed, please visit:
In September 2008, the NARS completed a Strategic Plan to guide the long-term goals of the program. Strategic Plan
To learn about how the management of the NARS is funded, click to view the NAR Special Fund Flyer.
For more information: