NARS Designation

Ensure that the NARS protects the full range of unique natural ecosystems, habitats containing rare, threatened and endangered species, and geologic features.

The Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) was created to preserve and protect representative samples of Hawaiian biological ecosystems and geological formations, and currently consists of 19 reserves on five islands, totaling 109,165 acres. Areas that are designated as NARS are protected by rules and management activities that are designed to keep the native ecosystem intact, so a sample of that natural community will be preserved for future generations. Contained in the System are some of Hawai‘i’s most treasured forests, coastal areas, and even marine ecosystems.

However, certain types of natural communities in Hawai‘i are not designated as NARS, even though they meet the criteria as highly intact and un-represented in the current System. One of the statutory responsibilities of the NARS Commission is to conduct studies of areas for possible inclusion and recommend to the governor and the department areas suitable for inclusion within the reserves system (HRS § 195-7).

‘Ohi‘a-dominated forest near Hono O Na Pali NAR, Kaua‘i, that has been nominated as a natural area reserve.

‘Ohi‘a-dominated forest near Hono O Na Pali NAR, Kaua‘i, that has been nominated as a natural area reserve.

You can get involved by providing input on which areas would be valuable additions to the Natural Area Reserves System, based on the existing Criteria for NARS Designation. Additionally, anyone may submit nominations to the NARS Commission for inclusions. Please view the Recommended Guidelines for Potential NARS Proposals. The Process for NARS Designation page explains which lands are eligible for inclusion in the NARS, and how those lands are designated.

Also, check out a sample NARS Nomination proposal: Hono O Na Pali Extension.

While private lands can also become NARS, another option is the Natural Area Partnership Program. This innovative program provides state matching funds on a minimum 2:1 basis with private funds to encourage the management of natural resources on private lands permanently dedicated to conservation. With over 30,000 acres enrolled, this program complements the existing NARS by providing long-term protection and management of natural area reserve quality on private lands.

If you have any additional questions about this process, or would like to submit a nomination or recommendation, please contact Emma Yuen, NARS Planner at (808) 587-4170 or via email.