Access, collection, research, and other regulated activities may require a permit from DOFAW. This page provides general guidelines for permits under the jurisdiction of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). These guidelines are intended to help prospective researchers and members of the general public obtain the necessary permit(s) for DOFAW regulated activities. It is the individual’s sole responsibility to ensure that all applicable permits are held prior to commencement of regulated activities.
To determine whether you need a permit, read permit guidelines, and apply for permits, use the links below based on the type of activity you plan to undertake. Note that more than one permit may be required depending on the location and type of activity, as well as the species impacted by the activity. Thoroughly review the guidelines for any and all relevant topics below.
If you are seeking permits for research, note that the permits you likely need are organized below based on the type of organism you are working with (e.g., native wildlife, invertebrates, etc.) as well as the place in which you plan to conduct your research (e.g., activities within a Forest Reserve, a Natural Area Reserve, etc.). Again, you may need multiple permits depending on the location and type of activity, as well as the species impacted by the activity.
Unless otherwise specified in the guidelines of a specific permit, requests for permits should be submitted, at minimum, 90 days prior to the expected start of field work to allow sufficient time for review and processing. Incomplete applications (including applications without maps when requested) may necessitate additional processing time. For electronic permit applications, the application must have valid electronic signatures and be submitted according to the permit guidelines and application form. For applicants submitting hardcopy or scanned applications, original signatures are required and applications should be submitted to the appropriate DOFAW office via mail or be hand delivered before they are considered valid.
Note that more than one permit may be required depending on the location and type of activity, as well as the species impacted by the activity. Commercial activities ranging from guided hikes and tours to photography may require additional permits. It is the individual’s sole responsibility to ensure that all applicable permits are held prior to commencement of regulated activities. All permit applications received by DOFAW may be reviewed at multiple levels. These include review by staff from DOFAW Administration office, by staff from local DOFAW offices on a particular island, by peer reviewers, and in some cases, by the Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Fieldwork in Hawai‘i can be hazardous and must be approached accordingly. For permits with field components, the permit holders must check in with the appropriate local DOFAW office on an island prior to the initiation of field work. Access to DOFAW-managed lands may be denied or rescheduled for any reason, including but not limited to changes in field conditions such as hurricanes or fires. This is a safety issue and the primary reason why contact with the local DOFAW office for that island must be made prior to beginning fieldwork. A copy of the signed permit must be carried with the permit holder(s) at all times while in the field, as either a hardcopy or a digital copy on a charged, accessible device. Additional permit information may be requested from DOFAW staff. Staff contacts for specific permit topics are listed below, or applicants can contact any of our office via the information at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/contact .
In addition to DOFAW permits, permits from other divisions within the Department of Land and Natural Resources or from outside agencies may be required. It is the individual’s sole responsibility to ensure that all applicable permits are held prior to commencement of regulated activities. The following are examples of additional permits that may be needed:
- For studies involving federally protected species, such as migratory birds and Threatened and Endangered species, Federal permits must be obtained prior to initiation of fieldwork. It should be noted that State permits are not valid for species protected by federal law unless the appropriate federal permits are held. It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to determine what federal permits and approvals are required for their proposed activity prior to the commencement of such activity.
For activities involving collection or possession of Threatened & Endangered Species or Migratory birds require a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit, contact USFWS Hawai‘i office at (808) 792- 9400.
For transferring plant material of Threatened or Endangered Species outside of Hawaii, please contact the USFWS Hawaiʻi office for a Transfer Letter at (808) 792-9400.
- For activities involving fresh water or marine species, contact Division of Aquatic Resources: 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 330, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813; phone (808) 587-0100; fax (808) 587-0115.
- For research/activities involving State Parks, contact Division of State Parks: 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 310, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813; phone (808) 587-0300; fax (808) 587-0311.
- For research/activities involving unencumbered state lands, contact Land Division: 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 220, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813; phone (808) 587-0446; fax (808) 587-0455.
- For research/activities involving Conservation District (both private and public land), contact Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at (808) 587-0377.
- For research/activities involving historical sites contact the Historic Preservation Division: Kakuhihewa Building, 601 Kamokila Boulevard, Suite 555, Kapolei, Hawai‘i 96706; phone (808) 692-8015; fax (808) 692-8020.
- Activities involving Mauna Kea Ice Age NAR typically also require a permit from the Office of Mauna Kea Management: 640 N. Aohoku Place, Rm. 203, Hilo, HI 96720; phone (808) 933-0734; fax (808) 933-3208. Permits are required from OMKM for groups exceeding 10 people; groups wishing to film on Maunakea for the purpose of sale, video production, television transmission, or to publicize the visuals and other information in electronic or printing form; operation of a commercial tour; research; military groups. OMKM provides additional application details for activities involving research.
Staff Contact: William Stormont
Relevant Administrative Rules: Chapter 130 (Trails and access program)
Permit Guidelines & Application: Commercial tour vendors using approved Nā Ala Hele system trails and access roads must obtain a Commercial Trail Tour Activity (CTTA) permit. Guidelines are available at the permit application link below.
Staff Contact: Contact the local DOFAW office on the island where your activity will occur
Permit Guidelines & Application: DOFAW provides permits for camping at certain sites managed as Forest Reserves and also along some Nā Ala Hele trails. Users can find a list of opportunities and guidelines at the link below. The link also provides information on campsites managed by the Division of State Parks.
Staff Contact: Contact the local DOFAW office on the island where your activity will occur
Relevant Administrative Rules: Chapter 104 (Activities within forest reserves)
Permit Guidelines & Applications: The public is generally free to enter Forest Reserves during daylight hours, unless otherwise restricted. Access permits may be required to control impacts to sensitive areas, prevent incompatible uses, regulate entry during periods of high fire danger, or authorize scientific collection of plants or animals. The following public use permits may be obtained from the Department at the local DOFAW offices during normal business hours:
Campsites may be closed due to Covid-19 concerns.
All persons, groups, organizations, or associations wishing to camp within a Forest Reserve are required to obtain a camping permit.
Camping is only allowed at official camp sites.
All persons wishing to collect forest items, such as ti leaves or bamboo, for personal or cultural use are required to obtain a collecting permit authorizing the collection in a specific area.
Collection of endangered or threatened wildlife or plants will not be permitted except as provided by Chapter §13-124 HAR.
All persons wishing to purchase, harvest, and/or remove forest products, such as timber, seedlings, tree ferns, cinder, and lava rock are required to obtain a commercial harvest permit authorizing the use, area, and quantity of material. View the 2018 Forest Products Price List.
Value of raw material to be harvested shall not exceed $10,000, minimum $10 processing fee.
For access to or entry into restricted forest reserves, all persons require an access permit.
For specific uses requirements or allowable uses under an access permit, see Branch offices.
All persons wishing to conduct research in a forest reserve are required to obtain an Access permit for Research. There is a $50 processing fee.
All hunters are required to carry the appropriate hunting licenses as well as any required permits or stamps.
For specific hunting rules and regulations, see our hunting webpages or contact Branch offices.
All other types of uses which are considered compatible with the functions and purposes of each individual area, facility, or unit within a forest reserve.
Such activities include but are not limited to meetings, weddings, and other community events or activities. May need approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Staff Contact: Leah Laramee
Relevant Administrative Rules: Chapter 209 (Activities within Natural Area Reserves)
Permit Guidelines & Applications: Researchers, filmmakers, groups of more than 10 people or any activities outside of personal recreation require a special use permit. Please refer to the rules page for information on the what types of activities also require a special use permit. To apply for a NARS Special Use Permit, please visit the online permit application form:
Staff Contact: Local DOFAW office
Relevant Administrative Rules: Chapter 126 (Wildlife Sanctuaries)
Permit Guidelines & Applications: Because the primary purpose of Wildlife Sanctuaries is to protect wildlife, there are strict rules on if/when people can enter sanctuaries and what activities are allowed. Some Wildlife Sanctuaries are completely closed, while others have restricted access (for example, access is allowed on specific trails or below the high water mark). These are listed in the administrative rules for Wildlife Sanctuaries (HAR 126), including:
- Exhibit 1: List of CLOSED wildlife sanctuaries
- Exhibit 2: List of RESTRICTED wildlife sanctuaries (including details on what restrictions apply for each sanctuary), and
- Exhibit 3: List of wildlife sanctuaries in which commercial activities may be permitted (for example, guided visits or commercial videography or photography).
Permits for activities in sanctuaries should be coordinated by contacting your local DOFAW office. For sanctuaries in Exhibit 3 that are coastal or offshore islands (Mokuauia, Popoʻia, and Mokunui Islets), landing a commercial vessel requires a Commercial Vessel Landing Permit. Permits for other activities may be possible, including permits for (1) scientific, research, or education purposes, (2) conservation and management, (3) subsistence, traditional, and customary practices by Native Hawaiians consistent with the long-term preservation of the wildlife sanctuary resources, or (4) any other purpose consistent with chapter 195D, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes.
Kipuka ʻAinahou Nēnē Sanctuary is also a designated Public Hunting Area. All hunting on Hawaiʻi Island and in the State of Hawaiʻi is guided by the Rules Regulating Game Bird Hunting, Field Trials, and Commercial Shooting Preserves under Chapter 13-122 and the Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting under Chapter 13-123. For information on Hunter Education, hunting licenses, or other issues, visit the statewide Hunting Homepage.
Staff Contact: Jason Omick
Relevant Administrative Rules: Chapter 121 (Hunting), Chapter 122 (Game bird hunting), Chapter 123 (Game mammal hunting) Chapter 124 (Indigenous Wildlife, Endangered & Threatened Wildlife, Injurious Wildlife, Introduced Wild Birds, and Introduced Wildlife, lists found in Chapter 124, Exhibits), Chapter 126 (Wildlife Sanctuaries)
Permit Guidelines & Applications: For actions affecting any Endangered, Threatened, candidate or proposed species (bird, animal, or plant; terrestrial or marine); contact the Wildlife Program staff, and/or the Conservation Initiatives Coordinator. You can call the DOFAW Admin office at (808) 587-0166. There are multiple permits related to this topic, described below.
Staff Contact: Cynthia King
Relevant Administrative Rules: Chapter 124 (Indigenous Wildlife, Endangered & Threatened Wildlife, Injurious Wildlife, Introduced Wild Birds, and Introduced Wildlife). Lists found in Chapter 124, Exhibits.
Permit Guidelines & Applications: To apply for a Native Invertebrate Research and Collecting Permit, please visit the online permit application form. DOFAW has provided some helpful hints for navigating the NARS Inertebrate or Endangered Plant Permit system.
Staff Contact: Matthew Keir
Relevant Administrative Rules Chapter: Chapter 107 (Threatened and endangered plants)
Permit Guidelines & Applications: To apply for a permit to survey, monitor, research, collect, propagate, or outplant threatened and endangered plants, please use this online permit application form. DOFAW has provided some helpful hints for navigating the NARS Inertebrate or Endangered Plant Permit system. For activities occurring on private lands, applicants will also need to provide Private Landowner Permission Information.
To apply for commercial use of Hawaiian threatened and endangered plant species, download, fill, and follow return directions using this pdf application:
Staff Contact: Wildlife staff at your local Forestry & Wildlife Office (see list below)
Permit Guidelines & Applications: When wildlife are harming crops, health, or are otherwise a nuisance as described in HAR 13-124-17, the division may issue permits for nuisance wildlife control outside of normal hunting areas, seasons, or limits. Full permit conditions and guidelines may be provided by the administering branch staff member. You can contact the local Forestry & Wildlife office or the Wildlife Program staff below:
Staff Contact: Sharleen Lee, Statewide Admin Office, 808-587-0166
Relevant Administrative Rules Chapter: Chapter 124 (Indigenous Wildlife, Endangered & Threatened Wildlife, Injurious Wildlife, Introduced Wild Birds, and Introduced Wildlife). Lists found in Chapter 124, Exhibits.
Permit Guidelines & Application: Injurious wildlife are species or subspecies of animals (except game birds and game mammals) which are known to be harmful to agriculture, aquaculture, indigenous wildlife or plants, or constitute a nuisance or health hazard and are listed in HAR 124 Exhibit 5. It is prohibited to release injurious wildlife into the wild, transport them to locations within the State where they are not already established, or export any such species or parts thereof from the State. Permits for transport or export of injurious wildlife may be provided in certain situations, including:
- Research, educational display, or exhibition (e.g., universities, zoos, museums)
- Personal use (e.g., as pets): DOFAW may issue a one-time permit per residence/family as follows:
- For Hawaiʻi residents moving out-of-state who already have injurious wildlife in their possession, DOFAW may issue a permit to export up to four animals per species of injurious wildlife. Any injurious wildlife in your possession that you are unable to export when you depart the State cannot be released into the wild, nor can they be transported to new locations in the State of Hawaiʻi where that species is not already established.
- For visitors to Hawaii who wish to export animals that are designated as injurious wildlife, DOFAW may issue a permit to export one animal per species of injurious wildlife requested.
No permits will be issued for export of injurious wildlife for commercial use. It is incumbent on the applicant to ensure that all other regulations and policies relating to animal transport are followed, including but not limited to collection permits or permissions, regulations of states to which specimens are exported, and the policies of airlines or mail carriers involved in transport or export. Applicants should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to ensure compliance with federal and international regulations regarding wildlife transport. The USFWS maintains a separate list of federally-designated “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act with associated regulations and may require additional permits for international transport of wildlife, such as a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit.
To receive an Injurious Wildlife Export Permit from DOFAW, complete and return the permit application along with:
- A clear photocopy of a government issued photo ID
- A description of how the individuals will be transported and any regulations in your destination jurisdiction regarding import and possession of the requested species
- If you are requesting animals for research or educational display, include a brief letter on your organization’s letterhead stating how the animals will be used in your program.
Not all permits or permit guidelines are currently available online. To ensure your activities are permitted, contact your local office of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
In addition to the general permits above, each local DOFAW Branch office (Kaua’i, O’ahu, Maui Nui, and Hawai’i Island) maintains permits for specific areas under their jurisdiction. Not all permits are currently offered online and the lists below are not intended to be complete, exhaustive lists. If you do not see your intended activity reflected in the list of information below, you may still need a permit. To ensure you know whether your planned activities need a permit, contact your local DOFAW office.
Staff Contact: Kauaʻi DOFAW Office
Permits & Applications:
This is not a complete list of permits offered by the Kauaʻi Branch. For additional permit information, contact your local DOFAW branch office.
Staff Contact: Oʻahu DOFAW Office
Permits & Applications:
- Vehicular access permit to Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve. This permit managed by DLNR Division of State Parks and is required to drive a vehicle past the gate at the end of the paved road leading toward Kaʻena Point.
Lulumahu Falls: Honolulu Forest Reserve; Restricted Watershed. A reservation and permit are required to hike this trail in Nuʻuanu Valley. Full permit guidelines are available at the link below.
Kuaokala and Mokuleia Forest Reserve Access via Kaena Point Tracking Station. Permit is for parking and hiking the Kuaokala Trail or for accessing forest reserve roads via the Air Force Ka’ena Point Tracking Station. Full permit guidelines are available at the link below.
- Poamoho Trail: Hikers need a permit and 4×4 vehicle to drive past the gate and on the road to Poamoho trailhead. For more information and link to the online permit application, use the button below.
- Commercial Vessel Access to Wildlife Sanctuaries on Coastal or Offshore Islands: Mokuauia, Popoʻia, and Mokunui Islet (the northern island of the Mokulua Islands): Landing a commercial vessel requires a Commercial Vessel Landing Permit. Permits for other activities are considered on a case-by-case basis by the local DOFAW office (see details above under “Activities Within a Wildlife Sanctuary).
This may not be a complete list of permits offered by the Oʻahu Branch. For additional permit information, contact your local DOFAW branch office.
- Game Harvest Permit: Allows for harvest of game mammals for commercial meat processing. Requires landowner permission and coordination with USDA. Contact: John Medeiros ([email protected])
Staff Contact: Hawaiʻi Island DOFAW Office
Permits & Applications:
- Off-highway vehicle permits for Upper Waiākea ATV & Dirt Bike Park, and Mauna Kea ATV Dirt Bike Riding Area
This is not a complete list of permits offered by the Hawaiʻi Island Branch. For additional permit information, contact your local DOFAW branch office.