PAAUILO, Hawaii -- The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI) has announced the planting of its 500,000th native tree in Hawaii. More than 1,200 acres of former pastureland on both Oahu and Hawaii Island have been reclaimed and returned to native forest.

“It’s wonderful to witness the birth of a forest, but there is much more going on here,” said HLRI Board Chairman Francis Wong.

“This project goes beyond just planting trees. It is developing entire native ecosystems, right down to the shrubs, flowers, and grasses. We are seeing unparalleled research and development advances and seeing the return of the endangered birds that historically occupied these lands. The `io (Hawaiian hawk), the pueo (Hawaiian owl), and the nene (Hawaiian goose) all have taken up residence again in the Legacy Forests. It’s remarkable how fast these changes are happening,”

Experts estimate that over the 50-year lifetime of a single tree, it will produce $31,250 worth of oxygen and $62,000 worth of air pollution control.  Each tree will recycle $37,500 worth of water and prevent $31,250 of soil erosion. This data suggests that one tree will produce a societal benefit of $162,000. Given the fact that 500,000 trees have been planted in the Legacy Forests, the sponsors of these trees have collectively given the state of Hawaii a gift worth $81 billion.

“HLRI owes the success of this project to many great organizations, in particular, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, The Kahala Hotel & Resort, ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, and the Hawaii Convention Center,” said HLRI executive director Jeff Dunster.

“Through these partnerships, tens of thousands of individuals have participated in the Legacy Tree program. The simple act of sponsoring a tree by countless individuals has transformed these lands. The success of these forests really belongs to all of them.”

In addition, the Legacy Forests are creating permanent green jobs, reducing the effects of climate change through carbon sequestration, restoring our watershed, and producing the air that we breathe. 

The Legacy Tree program supports more than 400 charities worldwide, truly planting roots in both the forest and in the community.  Learn more about sponsoring a legacy tree at

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