Why Earth Day in Hawaii Hits A Little Different

Earth Day resonates uniquely in Hawaii. For me personally, as a resident of Hawaii and as a landscape photographer, Earth Day has special significance. I've had the privilege of capturing its natural beauty and diverse landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests, majestic mountains, and active volcanoes.

These experiences not only fuel my profession but also highlight the importance of preserving such wonders.

I'm continually aware of the impact that the ecosystem has on my nature photography and beyond me earning a livelihood taking pictures, how critical it is to conserve and preserve the natural environment of Hawaii for future generations.

How You & I Can Help Conservation Efforts in Hawaii

The Hawaiian ecosystem is incredibly complex, so it's never as easy as writing a check or fixing one problem. Rather, it's an on-going process that we all need to help with to preserve the landscape and creatures therein.

As a local or a visitor, there are several ways to help conservation efforts in Hawaii. I've outlined some of the best ways you can get involved and how to get started.

a beautiful forest scene at the lush Honolua Bay is accented by a path and a sun star peeking through the tropical foliage

A really amazing scene I discovered while walking through Honolua Bay. Decided to include the setting sun in this shot as well as it was peeking through the trees and this lens makes a fantastic sun star

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Join Or Donate to Hawai’i Conservation Alliance

  • The Hawai'i Conservation Alliance is an organization comprised of conservation leaders across disciplines and across the Hawaiian community.

    Stakeholders such as local government officials, native Hawaiians, non-profits leaders, local cultural representatives and environmental education experts come together to create a multi-pronged approach to addressing the serious environmental issues facing Hawaii.

    You can join or donate today to support some of these critical efforts:
  • Environmental impacts like local conservation projects and environmental impact analysis.
  • Environmental reporting and analysis including annual ecosystem and organization reports, conservation maps, and watershed snapshots.
  • Community connections such as conferences and dedicated online communities.
  • Collaboration on projects like environmental career development services and eco-start-up accelerator.
  • Give-backs where your purchases help fund environmental organizations and conservation efforts.

This month, for Earth Day 2024, Andrew Shoemaker fine art prints will be 30% off with 15% of proceeds donated to the Hawai'i Conservation Alliance with code EARTH30 at checkout!

Eco-tourism

Eco-tourism plays a crucial role in preserving Hawaii's unique ecosystem while allowing visitors to experience the islands' natural beauty responsibly.

Through eco-tourism, visitors can engage in activities that have minimal impact on the environment, contribute to local conservation initiatives, and learn about the importance of protecting Hawaii's diverse habitats and species. This approach ensures that Hawaii's natural and cultural treasures are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

There are many organizations and websites dedicated to making tourism more eco-friendly. Some good resources to check include:

Serendipity is a fine art photograph from Andrew Shoemaker at Lanikai Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu featuring azure waters and two islands on the horizon

Sometimes all of the elements just come together for an iconic scene from Lanikai Beach. My favorite thing about Lanikai is the white sand and incredible water color. I timed it right with the palm shadows in the foreground to complete this classic shot. Also available in panoramic format here.

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Join Earth Day Efforts in Your Area

Participating in conservation efforts is important every day of the year no matter where you live. Even if you're far away from Hawaii, your local community, and the world at large, will benefit from you participating in Earth Day activities:

  • Conserve resources: Water, energy and materials all have an environmental impact, by reducing your use of these you also reduce the amount of carbon and pollution you put into the air, water and land.
  • Support sustainable practices: Choose products and brands that prioritize sustainability and the environment over profit.
  • Grow a tree or plant: Participate in tree-planting activities or create a garden with native plants to support local ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Join and participate in local efforts: There are local and community groups dedicated to improving the environment in your area, check them out and if they're right for you, try joining or participating in their Earth Day efforts.

All of these conservation efforts are important, but the focus of Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics. Read my blog about World Oceans Day to learn more about how plastics in our oceans affect Hawaii and what we can do to help.

Hawaii's Ecosystem & What It Means for Conservation

Hawaii has one of the most diverse and delicately balanced ecosystems worldwide. For the residents, both human and non, this creates an unparalleled biome that we all contribute to in some form or another.

For Earth Day, this delicate balance comes into focus and allows us to assess and plan how we better take care of our islands. Hawaii is so unique because of it's geologic and cultural history and this presents some challenges for conservation efforts.

Island Formation

The Hawaiian islands formed due to volcanic activity in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the oldest island is Kauai, formed 5.5 million years ago while the big island is much younger being 700,000 years old so its ecosystems are also younger.

Island Isolation

The Hawaiian archipelago is one of the most isolated in the world. This isolation has produced many highly-specialized plants and animals that have evolved over the years with different evolutionary pressures compared to ecosystems around the world.

Flora & Fauna

With native plants endemic to the island and a variety of unique animal species that have evolved over geologic eras, Hawaiian flora and fauna have many unique characteristics not found elsewhere on Earth and need special care and attention.

Marine Life

As a series of islands, the surrounding marine ecosystem is also part of the Hawaiian biome that needs to be taken into account in conservation and preservation efforts. This adds a layer of complexity not found in ecosystems further away from the oceans.

Invasive Species

Because Hawaii has been so isolated it's more susceptible to invasive species and makes maintaining the balance of the ecosystem that much more difficult.

Cultural Heritage

The Hawaiian ecosystem is intertwined with the culture and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. Their knowledge plays a critical role in all conservation efforts on the islands.

Because Hawaii is a remote island chain with a unique ecosystem conservation efforts here are complicated and multi-dimensional. It truly is a balancing act involving the specific needs of the flora and fauna, residents and businesses.

Celebrating and Supporting the Hawaii Ecosystem

Protecting our planet is a responsibility that extends beyond Earth Day, requiring our commitment every day.

Visiting Hawaii offers a tangible connection to the earth's splendors, inviting you to witness its breathtaking landscapes firsthand. If you can't come visit, that's ok- you can enjoy Hawaii's beauty every day by securing a limited edition Andrew Shoemaker print and in doing so, make an Earth Day donation to the Hawai'i Conservation Alliance.

Let's commit to nurturing our planet every day, ensuring its preservation for generations to come.

the biggest wave in Hawaii Jaws (also known as Peahi) breaks as photographer Andrew Shoemaker captures it's beautiful blue barrel.

The biggest wave in Hawaii, "Jaws" showcasing it's incredible power as the boat captain put us in perfect position to capture this beautiful blue barrel.

Collector's Edition of 100, Artist Proof 1

a beautiful photograph if a bridge leading into a bamboo forest on the Pipiwai trail near Hana, Hawaii.  Hawaii photography by Andrew Shoemaker

This little scene just seemed to encompass the experience of hiking along the Pipiwai. You're instantly just transported into another world simply by crossing a bridge. As a first time hiker stated it to me, "it feels like I've been hiking in a movie". Pretty much sums up this incredible part of Maui.

Collector's Edition of 100