Landowner Assistance Programs

There are several landowner assistance programs available in Hawaiʻi for landowners willing to protect their forest, wildlife & watershed resources. Below is a summary of a few key programs offered through the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Community Forest Program: Offers matching funds to local governments and nonprofit conservation organizations for fee title acquisition of forests. Forests purchased through this program are owned by local governments and/or non-profit land conservation groups and are managed to provide public benefits including access and recreation, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, as well as economic benefits from timber and non-timber products. (Cost-Share 50/50) Contact Tanya Rubenstein at (808) 587-0027.

Forest Stewardship Program: Provides technical and financial assistance to private forest landowners to promote the stewardship, enhancement, conservation, and restoration of Hawaii’s forests. A range of forest management activities, including timber production and agroforestry are also supported. (Cost-Share is 50/50; 10-year contract). Contact Marissa Chee at (808) 587-4177.

Forest Legacy Program:  Protects private forestlands from being converted to non-forest uses. This program provides willing private landowners the opportunity to sell fee simple property, or conservation easement use-rights on their land to the State of Hawaiʻi for the purpose of preserving or restoring uniquely forested areas. (Cost-Share 75/25) Contact Tanya Rubenstein at (808) 587-0027 .

Habitat Conservation Plans and Safe Harbor Agreements: 

  • Habitat Conservation Plans provide measures for avoidance, minimization, mitigation, monitoring, and net recovery benefit to the affected species. When development projects or land management activities that cannot avoid take of endangered or threatened species, the landowner may seek an Incidental Take License (ITL) from the Department for take of threatened or endangered species, if such take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity.  The ITL must be accompanied by a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that meets the requirements enumerated under Chapter 195D, HRS.
  • Safe Harbor Agreements encourage private landowners to voluntarily manage their lands to the benefit of endangered, threatened, proposed, and candidate species with assurances that future property-use limitations would not be required as a result of these conservation efforts. Contact the Conservation Initiatives Coordinator at (808) 587-0166.

Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program:  The state’s urban forestry program focuses on improving the health and viability of trees in communities throughout Hawai‘i through educational programs; financial support in the form of cost-share grants; technical training; Arbor Day promotions and public/private partnerships. Funding comes from the State and Private Forestry Branch of the USDA Forest Service. Contact Heather McMillen at (808) 587-0054.

Legacy Land Conservation Program: The Legacy Land Conservation Program provides grants to community organizations and government agencies that strive to purchase and protect land that shelters exceptional, unique, threatened, and endangered resources.

Natural Area Partnership Program: Supports a full range of management activities to protect, restore or enhance private lands that contain some of Hawaii’s most intact ecosystems and endangered species. Funds can be provided for the development of long-range management plans. Contact the Executive Secretary of the Natural Area Reserves System Commission (808) 587-0063.

Watershed Partnership Program:  Voluntary alliances of public and private landowners committed to the common value of protecting forested watersheds for water recharge and other ecosystem services through collaborative management. Provides technical and financial support for the implementation of watershed management plans. Contact Katie Ersbak at (808)-587-4189.