Sustaining Paradise: Hawaiian Islands Land Trust

Mauna Kea

A tract of forestland on the northeast slopes of Mauna Kea is protected by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust | Photo courtesy of Ian Lindsey Photography

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT) mission is simple: To protect the lands that sustain us for current and future generations. The statewide organization formed in 2011 when the Kauai Public Land Trust, Oahu Land Trust, Maui Coastal Land Trust, and Hawaii Island Land Trust merged to combine resources and opportunities.

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HILT helps establish and maintain sustainable practices on beautiful properties such as this one at Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui | Image provided by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, HILT takes a broad approach to conservation, seeking the widespread sustainability of our lands for the people who live on it. In addition to ecological and wildlife sustainability, it also can provide potential tax benefits for multi-generational estates. While it partners with organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, the nonprofit keeps its mission open to overall sustainability of the land rather than focused on one particular area of conservation.

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HILT seeks conservation not only of wildlife habitats, but the entire ecosystem of the Hawaiian Islands | Photo by Ian Lindsey Photography

The Conservation Easement

The main tool in HILT’s toolbelt is the conservation easement, which is a voluntary agreement entered into by the landowner and the Land Trust to permanently limit the type and amount of development that can occur on the land parcel. With this agreement, the Land Trust is required to protect the land in perpetuity, even under future land ownership.

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Through a Conservation Easement, HILT helps protect the oceanfront and shoreline on 41 acres of Hana Ranch land on Maui | Image provided by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust

Fee Ownership

HILT also employs fee ownership when private landowners transfer the ownership to a protection agency in order to preserve their land. While landowners often approach HILT for assistance with their properties, the organization also seeks out opportunities to protect culturally or environmentally important lands.

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A HILT project, the Auwahi Wind Farm on private land on Maui provides approximately 10% of Maui’s energy | Image by Winston Welborn

Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the Land Trust is managed by a board of directors with members from all counties in the state. The nonprofit is funded by memberships, private donations, foundation and agency grants, and various fundraising events.

More Information

To find out more about the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and to see details about land they are currently protecting, visit their website.