Hawaii was once an island home to its local citizens, animals, and plants. Now, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations.

The native species of Hawaii are now under more pressure to survive as the state has become more exposed to the rest of the world. The US-based Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) biologist, Chris Balzotti, has been in charge of a program to restore the state’s original forests. The project started in 2002 to protect the intact woods of the Ka’ Forest Reserve located in the Ka’ region. The forest has thick hi’a and koa trees, where rare native species like the nuku ‘i’iwi and other birds live and lay their eggs. The Hawaiian Happy-Faced Spider also makes its home on this precious piece of land.

“It’s important to have native areas like this because it allows the indigenous community to connect with the species that are culturally important to them,” senior scientist and cultural advisor for TNC Dr. Sam Gon says. “Their relationship to the land is sacred. We take that sacred trust seriously.”