Growing a Legacy

Koa wood is one of the Big Island’s most treasured natural resources and is in demand by fine wood furnishing artisans and consumers around the globe. While this has put Hawaii on the map for quality natural products, it could potentially lead to the depletion of this finite resource. To manage the demand before it turns into a tragic tale, the Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) organization has been operating on the Big Island to oversee an extensive reforestation project. Their recent endeavor launched at Kūka‘iau Ranch on the northeast slopes of Mauna Kea encompasses more than 2,700 acres of cattle pastureland that at one time was a natural koa forest. 

The organization’s plan, germinating from some 20,000 original koa tree seedlings, is ambitious (the goal is to plant up to 1.3 million trees by 2016) and is based on attracting private and corporate investors to finance the project. Aside from the environmentally-conscious, good citizen points earned, HLH representatives explain that when the trees mature over eight to 25 years, they theoretically will generate returns to the investors and revenues for the organization’s continued cultivation and harvesting process.

First to step to the plate from the local corporate community was respected Honolulu-based Hawaiian natural woods furniture and home accessory retailer, Martin & MacArthur in early 2010. In partnership with HLH, for each customer purchasing a piece of their bespoke, hand-crafted furniture, Martin & MacArthur will fund a koa tree planted in the customer's name. “Legacy Koa Trees” are also available for consumers who simply want to support the cause for $59 at Martin & MacArthur showrooms throughout the state—their most recent store opened at Waikoloa Kings’ Shops this past summer. 

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is also partnering with HLH as part of a global tree-planting initiative developed by the revered luxury hotel group. The corporation’s goal is to plant 10 million trees worldwide, celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary. Sources from the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai say they will plant up to 500,000 koa trees over the next few years on HLH’s sustainable forestland.  Interested hotel guests can also participate by purchasing a seedling with its own unique code, which will allow them to track the tree’s growth via GPS signal once it is planted in the forest. Participation fee is just $40 per tree to cover the planting and caring for their koa seedling. 

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