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Individual Highlight

Finding Value in Young-Growth Koa Wood

Photo of A koa log. Forest ServiceA koa log. Forest ServiceSnapshot : A demonstration project informs the forest industry in Hawai'i of the quality and uses for young-growth Koa wood

Principal Investigators(s) :
Lowell, Eini C. 
Research Location : Hawai'i
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 95


Koa wood is a culturally important and economically valuable species on the Hawai'ian Islands. It is used for a range of products from flooring to ukuleles. Old-growth koa, used for manufacture of traditional Hawai'ian wood products, is dwindling in supply with limited amounts available in the coming years.

Thousands of acres of young (less than 30 years old) koa stands, however, have naturally regenerated after logging and other disturbances, yet limited data are available for these second growth koa stands. Active management of these stands will make small-diameter young-growth trees available within the next 5 years.

Two studies have evaluated the quality and attributes of dead and dying old-growth koa and young-growth koa. Young-growth trees were sawn into lumber and woodworkers used the lumber to demonstrate its quality characteristics in a number of different products. These studies extend the legacy of koa wood by demonstrating properties of this wood and promoting its use. The manufacture of traditional products for display and use in public institutions and cultural resource centers has allowed a broader public to register their opinions on the quality and potential value of wood from younger koa trees.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Northern Research Station
  • Pacific Southwest Research Station
  • Hawai'i Forest Industry Association
  • University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Department of Hawai'ian Homelands

Program Areas