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La Réunion and Hawai‘i Connect through Sister Park Agreement

May 21, 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and a French volcanic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, signed a sister park agreement yesterday to fortify the mutual collaboration and cooperation between both parks.

Piton de la Fournaise erupts

An eruption consisting of several lava fountains started on Feb. 4, 2015 at Piton de la Fournaise on La Réunion Island. USGS photo.

Both Hawai‘i Volcanoes and La Réunion national parks feature active volcanoes and are celebrated throughout the world for their geological, biological, and cultural attributes. Both islands are located in the middle of vast oceans, and are situated over volcanic hot spots. La Réunion’s Piton de la Fournaise (“Peak of the Furnace”), is listed among earth’s most active volcanoes and stands 8,632 feet above sea level. Like Kīlauea, it is a shield volcano and is currently erupting.

Both parks are designated as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

“La Réunion is a wonderful ambassador on behalf of the precious world heritage of France. Our resources join us together – shield volcanoes and endemic and endangered species. We are proud to share with the community the joining of two of the wonders of the world,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Sister park agreement signing

Hawai‘i Volcanoes superintendent Cindy Orlando and La Reunion president Daniel Gonthier sign sister park agreement. NPS Photo

The sister park relationship enables both parks to enrich their personnel through projects of international cooperation, accomplished primarily through the exchange of managerial, technical and professional knowledge, information, and data technology.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park also has sister park agreements with Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes in South Korea and with Wudalianchi National Park in China. Like Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Jeju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Representatives from all three sister parks participated in the BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, held May 15-16 at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

La Reunion exhibit booth at BioBlitz 2015

Representatives of La Reunion National Park participated in the BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, May 15-16, 2015. Photo courtesy of Janice Wei.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recently initiated a new collaboration and exchange program between the USGS HVO and the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise. See the February 19, 2015 Volcano Watch article for details.

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