Hawaiian Legacy Hardwood, Kukaiau Ranch, Mauna Kea

“Forests aren’t like other commodities. You cannot accelerate the time it takes to grow a tree,” says Jeffrey Dunster, executive director of the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative. “The Chinese understood this. A Chinese proverb says: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’”
HLRI, which has the ambitious goal of restoring Hawaii’s forests, has an unconventional history.
Dunster, 58, met his longtime business partner, Darrell Fox, while both were brokers at a Honolulu investment firm in the mid-1980s. “Darrell had always wanted to do a forest,” Dunster remembers. “It’s an economic commodity, plus you’re doing something good for the planet.”
When the two retired from the world of investments in 2008, they started a sustainable forestry company, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.
“When we first started looking for land after the recession, land prices were down,” recalls Dunster, a Nuuanu resident. “We found an older couple …