A Bird's-Eye View

Pacific Edge Magazine

A new state-of-the-art TreeTracker technology takes a unique approach to tracking the reforestation of native and endemic trees in Hawai'i.

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 3.38.32 PM.png

Each year, tens of thousands of Legacy Trees are planted for permanent reforestation in the Hawaiian Legacy Forest high on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Now, with the click of a button, it is possible to watch them grow.

The nonprofit Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI) is now offering its specially developed TreeTracker technology at www.findmy.LegacyTrees.org. Legacy Tree sponsors can enter the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) number associated with their Hawaiian koa or sandalwood tree to view the tree online and track its growth.

Each of the Legacy Trees planted in the 1,200-acre Legacy Forest are planted with an RFID tag and tracked with a proprietary geotagging system found nowhere else in the world. That data is linked to the TreeTracker application, in which high-resolution imagery enables the user to pinpoint and zoom in to their tree.


"The new TreeTracker images are updated every six months. That is a drastic improvement over geobrowsing services like Google Earth, which is refreshed in our project's rural location every three to four years," says HLRI Chief Information Officer William Gilliam. "This allows users to get an accurate view of their tree, virtually tour the Legacy Forest, and select other areas where they may like to plant trees."

HLRI is working on enhancements to TreeTracker, including capabilities for tree sponsors to add personalized touches, such as photos or videos, in addition to customized dedications for their Legacy Trees. In the near future, guests will be able to tour the Legacy Forest in 3D and select trees to learn about their unique characteristics.

"Not only does this technology provide sponsors with ongoing insight about their Legacy Tree, but it is revolutionizing our entire approach to reforestation," says HLRI Executive Director Jeff Dunster. "We can now more accurately map the forest and better use it as an incubator for industry-leading forest research."

In addition, HLRI has developed a first-of-its-kind database that tracks the health, growth, and maintenance characteristics of each tree throughout its lifetime. The new technology will also be used to track information about trees planted under Legacy Carbon (www.LegacyCarbon.com), the only program of its kind to offer Gold Standard-certified carbon credits for the reforestation of endemic Hawaiian trees.

To track a tree or virtually tour the Legacy Forest, visit www.findmy.LegacyTrees.org. Legacy Trees can be sponsored online at www.LegacyTrees.org or in person through the award-winning Hawaiian Legacy Tours (www.HawaiianLegacyTours.com).

Joy Miyamoto