Koa Forest Restoration
By Jeff Dunster
CEO of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods
On the misty slopes of Mauna Kea are 1,000 acres of pasture that have been home to cattle ranching for the past 100 years. This historic site was once a pristine koa forest and the personal property of King Kamehameha the Great.
Our company is now planting koa trees on that land and creating a new model for renewable forestry in Hawaii. It is the goal of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwood to return this forest to its former glory. By using sustainable practices and proprietary technology, we are fostering long-term forest health for the aina, sustainable timber production for investors, carbon sequestration for our planet and ecosystem diversity for our wildlife – all while generating the next generation of green jobs.
Koa grows nowhere else on earth and was an exclusive asset to Hawaiian royalty. When the outside world discovered this magnificent wood, they applied western methods of harvesting – clearing more than 90 percent of all koa forests. Shrinking supply and growing demand has pushed prices up more than 1,000 percent in the past 10 years alone.
While the upside for sustainable timber is enormous, we believe the true value of a tree is much more than simply how many “board feet” of timber we can produce from it. We believe that there’s at least as much value in leaving the tree in the forest. Permanent Legacy Forests will help re-establish wildlife corridors, support our state in its efforts to protect and recharge our depleted watershed and much more.
Some organizations that have partnered with HLH to help re-establish the forest include The Nature Conservancy, Four Seasons Resorts Hualalai, American Lung Association, MOA of Hawaii and the American Cancer Society. Through our reforestation initiative, we are currently supporting more than 100 charities and organizations worldwide.
Individuals and organizations can sponsor and dedicate their own koa trees to honor an individual, commemorate an event or memorialize a loved one. Each tree is electronically tagged and this allows the tree owner to locate their trees on maps and satellite imagery like Google Earth.
A sponsor can even make arrangements to personally visit their tree. Each tree comes with a certificate of sponsorship, which can be personalized by the giver. Every tree dedication is a living legacy and a gift which grows grander year after year. As the ancient American Indian proverb states: “We don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”