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The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative recently 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.”
In addition, the Legacy Forests are creating permanent green jobs, reducing the effects of climate change through carbon sequestration, restoring watershed, and producing oxygen. 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. The data suggests that one tree will produce a societal benefit of $162,000, meaning that the sponsors of the half-million trees planted in the Legacy Forests have collectively given Hawaii a gift worth $81 billion.