HLRI launches second Legacy Forest on Hawaii Island

HONOLULU — The nonprofit Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative announced this week its second Legacy Forest, located at Kahua Ranch on Hawaii Island.

This Legacy Forest will encompass more than 700 acres of land on Kahua Ranch and be home to approximately 250,000 newly planted Legacy Trees for permanent reforestation. Plantings will include dozens of endemic Hawaiian species over a contiguous mix of forest, marshland and fully vegetated volcanic soil around Pu’u Pili.

Kahua — meaning the beginning, the source, or the foundation — is the legendary site on the western slopes of the Kohala Mountains where King Kamehameha I assembled and trained his warriors for the impending conquest of the Hawaiian Islands. At more than 3,500 feet above sea level, Kahua is an upcountry working ranch spanning 8,500 acres that welcomes more than 10,000 visitors every year.

“A portion of this land, which was fenced off from cattle grazing nearly 100 years ago, is a treasure trove of natural diversity. It will serve as the seed source for all further reforestation efforts on the ranch,” said Jeff Dunster, executive director of HLRI. “The Legacy Forest will have a measurable impact on preserving the land’s existing rare endemic species while reforesting a variety of native trees and enhancing a critical habitat for endangered wildlife.”

HLRI is dedicating a team of trained foresters to clear the land of all invasive plant species such as strawberry guava, ginger and other major ecological threats to Hawaii’s native forests. Replanting will include endemic koa, ohia, mamane, naio, kookoolau, kukaenene and iliahi trees to replace the cleared plants. Trees will be planted through Legacy Tree sponsorships, and will generate certified carbon credits under Legacy Carbon, founded in 2015 as the only program providing certified carbon credits in Hawaii.

HLRI uses state-of-the-art RFID technology to record the growth, health, location and sponsorship details of each tree, which can be tracked online.

“These lands serve as a critical watershed for the Kohala area, in addition to providing economic opportunities through ranching and recreation,” said Monty Richards, whose family founded the ranch in 1928. “It is our responsibility to serve as stewards of our environment, and the Legacy Forest will greatly enhance these lands for future generations to enjoy.”

In the past seven years, HLRI and sustainable forestry company HLH, LLC has planted almost 400,000 Legacy Trees across 1,200 acres of former pastureland at Kukaiau Ranch along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island, creating the first Legacy Forest of its kind worldwide. HLRI is working to reforest 1.3 million trees across the state, one for each person in Hawaii.

Through state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies, HLRI works with landowners to establish and preserve economically viable and sustainable endemic Hawaiian forests, protect endangered species, sequester carbon and recharge watersheds. HLRI’s Legacy Trees are planted for permanent reforestation and are sponsored by businesses and individuals, with a portion of proceeds donated to charities worldwide.

Info: Visit LegacyTrees.org

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