National Wildlife Federation Certifies New Wildlife Habitat at the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center in Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i

National Wildlife Federation (NWF) announces that the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center’s (HWC) native garden, located in Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i, 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 NWF certification sign now sits proudly in the main garden area at HWC.

The NWF certification sign now sits proudly in the main garden area at HWC.

The HWC focuses on the protection of Hawai‘i’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 Hawai’i. 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 3000 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 our homes and maintain our 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 our 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.  More information about how gardeners can reduce the effects of global warming can be found at

David Mizejewski, NWF Naturalist and spokesperson says, “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% discount on NWF catalog merchandise and are eligible to purchase a special outdoor sign designating their yard or garden as wildlife-friendly.  More information about gardening for wildlife and how to have your yard certified is available at or by calling 1-800-822-9919.


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