Healthy Earth

Organization Spotlight – Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative

Love, Care and Consciousness are built into our DNA at DrTung’s.  It’s a concept we weave into every part of our business model — from our products, to our consumers, to our team, to our planet and to all sentient beings.  There are many, many organizations working diligently to make this planet a better place.  Some of these organizations have touched our hearts in very deep ways.  To share the amazing work from a few of our favorite groups that we support through donations, we spotlight some of these incredible organization throughout the year. 

 The 12th organization in our series is…

 The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative

The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative is an organization of passionate scientists, environmentalists, and volunteers dedicated to preserving and reforesting Hawaii's forests. Native Hawaiian trees are under threat of deforestation as a result of climate change and exploitative agricultural practices.

But it’s not just trees that are under threat of extinction. Birds and wildlife that call these forests home are also under threat. And while it may not sound like the stakes are high, the entire planet is in jeopardy when birds and wildlife go extinct (more on that later).

The HLRI is on a mission to plant 1.3 million native Hawaiian trees. And they are about half-way there, having planted around 600,000 trees

Planting trees can be group family-friendly tree planting sessions with guided tours that introduce people to the endemic trees, birds, and other wildlife that call these forests home. Or, if you don’t want to physically plant trees, you can donate to have trees planted in your name or on behalf of someone else, like a departed loved one. Forward-thinking companies are also involved in larger tree sponsorships.

HLRI even partners with Jet-Set Offset, a carbon offset company that offsets emissions from plane rides for “a penny a mile.”

How It Started

HLRI was founded in 2014 by co-founders Jeffrey Dunster and Darrell Fox. Dunster and Fox worked together for 20 years as consultants for public companies before founding HLRI. Both have cited their children as their biggest inspiration to start the organization, feeling it was their duty to protect the environment for the sake of their children’s future.

HLRI’s Mission

The organization’s mission to plant 1.3 million native Hawaiian trees helps provide crucial habitat for Hawaii’s rare birds and wildlife.

Volunteers are planting prized trees like koa, and other endemic species like iliahi (sandalwood), naio (false sandalwood), milo and more. 

There are 3 main reasons for planting trees: they sequester carbonprovide habitat for Hawaii’s endangered native birds, and protect ocean life. Let’s break these down.

Sequestering Carbon

Planting trees is crucial in our fight against climate change. Global temperatures continue to rise as a result of burning fossil fuels to power cars, planes, and more. Such burning emits CO2, a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Decarbonization is crucial and dire. Planting trees removes and stores CO2 from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. 

Planting trees in combination with shifting to clean energy is crucial to reversing the effects of climate change.  

Providing Habitat for Birds

Not only does planting trees help sequester carbon, but it also provides crucial habitat for some of Hawaii’s most endangered bird species. Some of Hawaii’s most beloved birds, like Hawaiian honeycreepers, Maui parrotbills, and the ‘Akikiki are so endangered that there are only a few thousand left of them in the world.

Climate change continues to destroy habitat for native birds. Hotter average temperatures have resulted in more mosquitoes carrying avian malaria. Birds can die from just one bite from a malaria-carrying mosquito. 

Warmer temperatures have also moved birds to higher elevations to escape heat and mosquitoes. That means less habitat and more competition for resources. 

Hawaii’s native birds aren’t just delightful to watch and hear. Birds in general are incredibly important to the ecosystem. 
Birds act as natural pesticide, eating invasive species that destroy agricultural crops and trees. They also team up with bees to pollinate plants. 

If it weren’t for birds, our global food supply would be in jeopardy. 

Preserving natural habitats provides birds with the food, water, and resources they need to survive and do their “ecosystem services.”

Preventing Ocean Acidification

Planting trees to sequester carbon also keeps our oceans and reefs healthy. 

Oceans absorb as much as 10-30% of the atmosphere’s CO2. But, when there’s too much CO2 in the atmosphere, the pH levels in the ocean change, and seawater becomes acidic. This is known as ocean acidification, and it spells disaster for marine life.  

How We’re Partnering with HLRI

DrTung’s is supporting HLRI as follows.


We first started donating to HLRI in 2016, and we also sponsor Legacy Trees for special members of our ohana.  

Volunteering With Tree Planting

We’re not just making monetary donations. Recently a team from DrTung's spent the day planting over 100 trees at Umikoa Forest on the Big Island of Hawaii!!  

The Takeaway

Hawaiian forests aren’t just beautiful to behold–they’re essential. We would rather act to protect them than wonder why and what we have lost due to inaction.

Climate change is rapidly destroying the planet, but it isn’t too late to prevent the worst effects. As a company we understand our responsibility, so we can’t sit on the sidelines and simply watch this happen to our planet. Let's lead the charge in tackling climate change. 

HLRI, an organization of passionate environmentalists, has created so much over the years, and progressed tremendously toward their lofty goal to plant 1.3 million trees. DrTung's contributions may not be gigantic, but planting 100 trees in a day has connected us to planet earth in a very impactful way.

Our partnership with HLRI aligns with our efforts to contribute to greater balance in nature, which includes reducing our own environmental footprint, for example, by switching to plastic-free packaging. 

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