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Pathways to Sustainability 2012

(page 7 of 8)

Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods

With a legacy program dedicated to restoring Hawaii’s endangered forests, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) is doing its part to foster the growth not only of our trees, but our economy as well.  Most people support the cause of environmental preservation, but their has been no clear cut mechanism for an individual to have a meaningful impact.  The ‘legacy tree’ program helps to restore ecosystem diversity in Hawaii’s forests by pooling the donations of thousands of individuals to replant a native ecosystem on land that had been cleared by human activity.  The personal involvement creates far reaching awareness while  creating quality green jobs and generating funds for non-profits.  All in all it is a winning program for everyone touched by the concept.


                             LEFT: Nursery shot with a native koa butterfly looking back. RIGHT: A small grove of old growth koa

“Over a 50-year lifetime, a single Legacy Tree will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water, and provide $31,250 worth of soil erosion control,” says HLH CEO Jeffrey Dunster, “All for less than one-third of a penny per day.”

One of the most alluring features of the program is its simplicity. “A small act, but if done by enough people, can literally change the planet,” Dunster says.   To quote Niel Armstrong, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Here’s how it works: Anyone, whether it is an individual, business, non-profit or other entity, contacts HLH to sponsor a tree. HLH plants the tree using sustainable practices and proprietary technology, and the sponsor can designate a charity to receive some of the proceeds. “Charitable organizations use it as a fundraiser.  When someone sponsors a tree,  $20 of the $60 goes to their charity,” Dunster says.

Who participates? A plethora of non-profit organizations, green-minded businesses and caring individuals such as Martin and McArthur and Hagadone Printing, have chosen to participate to offset their own use of wood.

“Individual people do it, too. They sponsor trees for birthdays, graduations and marriages,” Dunster says. “They also do it in remembrance of somebody, and some even choose to sprinkle the ashes on the soil. What is interesting is that the koa trees actually absorb the calcium that is in that ash, so a part of the person ends up in the tree.”

Perhaps the most important beneficiaries of the program are the generations to come. Dunster stresses the importance of not only planting the trees, but also passing on the knowledge to our children. “If we can’t impart to the next generation why we did this, they are just going to cut them all down again,” he says.  “Planting a tree is a state of mind with a long time horizon.  As that tree grows so does the participants awareness of their place in the grand scheme of things.”People are not the only ones who benefit. “In planting the trees, we have seen more and more endangered birds on our property,” Dunster says. “When these trees come back, so do the birds.”

“This is a larger picture. It isn’t just about putting a tree in the ground. You have to find a way to use things wisely,” he says. Dunster often refers to the American Indian proverb, “We don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”


91 Coelho Way
Honolulu, HI 96817

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