Hawai’i’s koa tree (Acacia koa) is a much beloved and venerated native tree which grows only in Hawai`i. For centuries Hawaiians have traditionally used the koa tree and its wood extensively to make objects ranging from canoes to personal ornaments. Its exquisite grain and endlessly varying colors make it one of the world’s most prized and expensive woods. Unfortunately, much of its native range has been converted to other uses, primarily grazing. The value of high quality koa lumber has created a strong demand for and pressure on the remaining koa forests. Planting koa trees to date has not kept pace with the use of the tree’s wood. This webpage is designed to encourage and inform potential planters and investors in koa plantations. Growing koa has numerous risks and pitfalls, however this gorgeous tree with its spectacular wood could be worth the risk if the planter or investor is fully informed.
There is currently strong interest in growing koa both for conservation and utilization. There has been substantial research conducted, which is ongoing, however there has been limited operational experience. The Hawai’i Forest Industry (HFIA) believes that growing koa is both environmentally and culturally the right thing to do and it can make financial sense, if the investor is well-informed on growing practices and very cautious with planting costs.