The Community Guide to Land Conservation

The Community Guide to Land Conservation featured image

Protecting a threatened special place can seem daunting or even impossible. Knowing who to call, what to research, and how to ask for assistance can be confusing. The Trust for Public Land and Hawaiian Islands Land Trust share below the Community Guide to Hawaiʻi Land Protection to clarify the voluntary land conservation process and empower communities across Hawaiʻi in protecting privately owned and threatened lands with cultural, agricultural, and/or ecological significance.

Voluntary land conservation – buying land for public agencies or community organizations or restricting land uses on private property with the cooperation of the landowner — has resolved heated land disputes and created win-win-win solutions that benefit private landowners, our environment, community, and future generations. Where land use is contentious, the process of collaboratively working toward the land’s protection often begins a healing process that can build community resiliency and connections.

“He aliʻi ka ʻāina; he kauwā ke kanaka.”
“The land is chief; man is its servant.”
Mary Kawena Pukui, ʻŌlelo Noʻeau
Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, #531

Land provides man with everything needed to survive. But it is our responsibility to care for the land that provides us with food, water, and shelter. The Hawaiian wise saying above speaks to this reciprocal relationship between people and the land. Voluntary land conservation works within Western principles of property law. It is not a cure-all. Voluntary land conservation cannot resolve complex social, economic, and political issues relating to the overthrow of the Hawaiian government and the Mahele’s mass dispossession of Hawaiians from land. Voluntary land conservation, however, can take tangible baby steps toward a more holistic and community-based model of ownership and stewardship of land that reconnects people to land, and rebuilds the reciprocal relationship between people, ʻāina, and community.

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