Wao Kele o Puna

 Wao Kele o Puna rainforest, HI
Photo credit: 
Philip Rosenberg

For centuries, native Hawaiians have used this vast rainforest near Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park for traditional hunting, gathering, and religious purposes. But in the 1980s, the land became the subject of controversy, protest, and litigation, when a proposal for geothermal drilling was met with large-scale community opposition. At the invitation of Pele Defense Fund, a native Hawaiian group working to protect the forest, TPL worked with the landowner, the local community, and government agencies to permanently protect over 25,000 acres as a cultural and natural area reserve.

The transfer of Wao Kele o Puna to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs marks the first time in over 100 years that lands ceded during the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy have been returned to Native Hawaiian ownership.

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Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3 million acres and completed more than 5,200 park and conservation projects.