Categorized | Environment

NWF certifies wildlife habitat at Hawaii Wildlife Center

The National Wildlife Federation certification sign now sits proudly in the main garden area at Hawaii Wildlife Center. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Wildlife Center)

The National Wildlife Federation certification sign now sits proudly in the main garden area at Hawaii Wildlife Center. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Wildlife Center)


National Wildlife Federation has announced that the Hawaii Wildlife Center’s native garden, located in Kapaau, is now recognized as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat site.

The property attracts a variety of birds, butterflies and other local animals by providing a wildlife-friendly landscape.

The HWC focuses on the protection of Hawaii’s native species through hands-on care, research and education and recognizes the connection between the heritage and culture of all native species, plant or animal, to the land.

The HWC native garden benefits many species of native insects and birds, plays an important role in uniting the cultural heritage with the mission of the HWC, brings community together to help native wildlife flourish and reawakens the connections to the customs and traditions of Hawaii.

The garden was planted by local community members of all ages, many of whom still dedicate their time to help maintain it.

NWF began the Certified Wildlife Habitat program in 1973, and has since certified almost 150,000 habitats nationwide. The majority of these sites represent the hard work and commitment of individuals and families providing habitat near their homes, but NWF has also certified more than 3,000 schools and hundreds of business and community sites.

Any nature enthusiast can create a certified habitat and learn the rewards of gardening for wildlife. NWF teaches the importance of environmental stewardship by providing guidelines for making landscapes more hospitable to wildlife.

In order to become certified, a property must provide the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young.

In addition to providing for wildlife, certified habitats conserve our natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and/or irrigation water, which ultimately protects the air, soil and water throughout our communities.

Habitats not only nurture year-round resident birds but also provide stopover sites for migratory birds traveling between their summer and winter ranges.

Biologist Mark Hostetier of the University of Florida says that “urban environments are an important factor in the future conservation of many species. Not only has urban sprawl grown into the paths of stopover sites on bird flyways, but the sheer volume of human development has changed the amount of area available for nesting and overwintering.”

Creating habitats not only helps wildlife, it can help reduce global warming pollution and save energy costs as well. Burning fossil fuels to heat and cool homes and maintain lawns releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

Replacing lawns with strategically located trees and other native vegetation can insulate homes from heat, cold and wind, reducing our heating and cooling needs and thus our carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike lawns, wildlife-friendly native plants don’t need constant maintenance from gas guzzling lawn mowers or fertilizers that require fossil fuels to manufacture.

An additional benefit is that plants actually absorb carbon dioxide, helping to further reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

All of this adds up to increased areas available for wildlife habitats, reductions in levels of carbon dioxide that cause global warming, and reduced energy costs.

David Mizejewski, NWF Naturalist and spokesman said, “It’s easy to feel that there is no hope for wildlife in our modern world of smog, traffic and asphalt. But there is hope. Each of us can make our own piece of the Earth a healthy, green space that helps restore the ecological balance. Encouraging your neighbors to join with you can lead to a neighborhood or community habitat that provides wildlife with greater incentive to call your piece of the earth home.”

Participants who achieve certification receive membership in National Wildlife Federation, including a one-year subscription to the award-winning National Wildlife magazine, filled with inspiring wildlife articles and amazing nature photography. They also receive a personalized certificate, quarterly e-newsletters, a 10 percent discount on NWF catalog merchandise and are eligible to purchase a special outdoor sign designating their yard or garden as wildlife-friendly.

The mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

The mission of the Hawaii Wildlife Center is to protect, conserve and aid in the recovery of Hawaii’s native wildlife through hands-on treatment, research, training, science education and cultural programs.

The HWC is Hawaii’s only state-of-the-art rescue, rehabilitation, research and education facility exclusively for native wildlife. It takes a very hands-on and comprehensive approach to conservation and species recovery and currently have the only facility in the state that meets all federal, state and local standards for accommodating a large-scale rescue and rehabilitation effort targeting sick, injured or oiled wildlife.

It serves all Hawaiian Islands, including the Northwestern Islands extending to Midway and Kure Atolls. It are fully permitted for the rehabilitation of all native bird species and the Hawaiian Hoary Bat.

The HWC is not a zoo or a preserve; it is a professional organization that focuses on treating and rehabilitating sick and injured native wildlife for release back into the wild.

The HWC only accepts native seabirds, shorebirds, birds of prey, waterbirds, forest birds and the Hawaiian Hoary Bat.

The HWC does not accept introduced, non-native, invasive, exotic or agricultural animals.

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