Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) 2,700 acre planting site, located on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island, is beginning to transform from cattle pastures back to Koa forests thanks to the work of HLH and eco-minded investors. HLH has transformed the first 140 acre-section, just south of historic Umikoa Village, into a sustainable precision forestry operation. During the next five years, the site will hold approximately 1.3 million Koa trees. The initial 2009 planting was completely sold out even prior to all the seedlings being field planted.
"Looking out over the field and seeing the rows-upon-rows of growing Koa seedlings is incredibly rewarding," said Darrell Fox, COO of HLH. "I've been hands-on with this project every step of the way — from seed collection to final planting and it's really gratifying to see all of the hard work and planning come to fruition," he added.
This project didn't start on a whim. Darrell Fox and his business partner, Jeff Dunster, CEO of HLH, have had this business plan for 15 years. The timing for this project was finally right due to the recent decline in land prices while Koa lumber prices continue to increase (1,000% in the last 10 years). The business model for investing in sustainable hardwood reforestation projects isn't new. What is new is using Koa (a native Hawaiian wood found nowhere else on earth) for this business model.
For Dunster and Fox, growing Koa is more than just about the financial returns, though the conservative projections are substantial. For them, it's an opportunity to make a difference for Hawaii and leave behind a lasting legacy.
"We feel a portfolio should be more than just a vehicle for personal wealth, it should be a tangible expression of what an investor values most," said Dunster. "We are reducing global warming through carbon sequestration while providing our investors the opportunity for substantial profits."
Koa is a truly magnificent tropical hardwood. Once reserved for Hawaiian Royalty, Koa has now developed an international following. The majority of what is currently used comes from dead, fallen, and dying Koa trees, which get scarcer every year. Without projects like this one that HLH is spearheading, Koa won't be around for future generations.
The HLH project provides the unique opportunity to invest in Koa trees by purchasing a unit (100 Koa trees) and is accessible to a wide range of investors such as trusts IRA and 401K account-holders. While this is a 25-year project, profits are realized along the way through thinning and harvesting. HLH is currently offering tree lots for the 2010 planting season.
The HLH Plantation is located 34 miles north of Hilo, above historic Umikoa Village on the slopes of Mauna Kea. The 2700-acre sustainable forestry project will support the growth of 1.3 million rare tropical hardwood trees, primarily Koa, indigenous only to Hawaii. The planting site was once a magnificent Koa forest and was the personal property of King Kamehameha I. This old growth forest was almost lost to clear-cut harvesting and cattle grazing. Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods is working to return this site to its former glory.