Hawaii was once covered in fragrant and beautiful sandalwood trees comprising six native species that exist nowhere else in the world. First discovered by the outside world in the 1700s, Sandalwood became subject to extensive trade with China and other countries. As a result of heavy harvesting, most of sandalwood forests in Hawaii were nearly depleted by the 1830s. Despite the extensive ecological damage that has occurred, there are still pockets of Hawaiian sandalwood today, including swaths of the local green flowered variety scattered on the slopes of Mauna Loa right here on the Big Island. What was once nearly lost is now being slowly revitalized thanks to the efforts of a few individuals and organizations including Mark Hanson, founder of the Hawaiian Reforestation Program.
We are so blessed to live and work on this beautiful “Big Island” of Hawaii. From our inception, we have always taken steps to reduce our carbon footprint. Starting with the restoration of the old ranch homes our guests stay in — low impact, eco friendly accommodations in a natural and rugged setting with very limited use of chemical products in our landscape, gardens and homes. But there is always more to do.
As our planet struggles with the effects of overpopulation, mass produced and chemically enhanced food crops, deforestation in the Amazon, animal and sea life populations dropping in astounding numbers, coral bleaching and climate change, I felt compelled to take action in my own backyard.
Watching the trees burn in the Amazon broke my heart. But it also inspired me to action. My research led me to an amazing human, Mark Hanson, who has dedicated 30 years of his life to growing and planting native trees on our island. We recently joined him, the Sierra Club, and other volunteers on the gorgeous slopes on Puu Waawaa where we planted 169 native saplings.
Mark will be coming to Puakea Ranch before the end of the year to help us plant coastal sandalwood trees here on Puakea Ranch! We, along with surrounding neighbors are organizing to help bring back the landscape closer to what it was before Sandalwood trade explosion and the cattle became one of Hawaii’s biggest exports. Next up, how you – our guests – help us in this initiative.