RFID Talk Blog

RFID will track Koa tree data at Hawaiian tree farm

Tree huggers will clearly love this one. In a first-of-its kind application, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) is in the process of implementing an RFID tree tracking database so that investors in the HLH Koa reforestation project can track and monitor the progress of their investments in real time. About 20,000 trees have already been tagged.

The RFID-based system, combined with sophisticated GPS technology and a plantation-wide mapping system, will soon allow investors to use tools like Google Earth to drill down on their specific sustainable lumber investment from space and to pinpoint their specific stand. HLH is way out in front of the industry on this one; company executives expect the rest of the industry to follow suit within the next 10 years.

Each Koa tree planted will be equipped with an RFID tag, meaning that each individual tree is equipped with its own computer signature, which will track ownership, growth, maintenance, lumber-yield and pedigree for the tree owner. The GPS / GIS system will locate each tree by an exact set of geographic coordinates, allowing the tree owner to locate their trees on maps and by satellite imagery.

Trees must be ordered in lots of 100. The current pre-planting price is $6,639 per 100 trees for Koa. One of the reasons for the minimum order is the very nature of the forestry management process. Trees must be pruned and thinned with only the best trees growing to full maturity. With a small number of trees this process can create statistical anomalies in yields.

“This high-tech program will give a level of comfort to forestry investors that has never been available before now,” says Jeff Dunster, CEO of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

The HLH project provides the unique opportunity for individuals and institutional investors alike to invest in Koa trees as a sustainable commodity by purchasing specific units (100 Koa trees per unit).  HLH has made it possible for this investment opportunity to be accessible to a wide range of investors and investment vehicles including trusts, IRAs and 401Ks.  While this is a 25-year project, profits are realized along the way through thinning and harvesting. HLH is currently offering tree lots for the 2010 planting season.

The HLH Plantation is located 34 miles north of Hilo, above historic Umikoa Village on the slopes of Mauna Kea. The 2,700-acre sustainable forestry project will support the growth of 1.3 million rare tropical hardwood trees, primarily Koa, indigenous only to Hawaii.

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