Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) has found a way to occupy the sweet spot where “doing good” meets “doing well” by planting rare high value endemic koa trees on Hawaii Island. Some trees are planted for investors for eventual harvest, while others—“Legacy Trees”—are planted to permanently reforest the land, sequester carbon, advance science and inspire environmental awareness. The “For Harvest” model has many supporters, and for good reason. The consumption rates of tropical hardwoods has multiplied nearly 25 times in the last four decades. This rate is even more dramatic here in Hawaii where dwindling supplies have pushed koa prices up more than 1000% in the last 10 years alone, making it one of the most valuable woods on planet Earth.
Tropical rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Unlike oil and natural gas, we are not discovering new reserves. Plantation-raised trees currently supply only 1-2% of the tropical hardwood market. Even with a complete shift in the policies of the governments where these trees are grown, it is unlikely that we will see more than a small percentage of our current lumber needs met by plantation-grown trees. With our current deforestation rate, most estimates indicate a global shortage within the next 14 years (as of 2009). This will put tremendous upward pressure on the price of tropical hardwood lumber.