Modern conservation is often most effective when it is financially sustainable. Increasingly, efforts to preserve and grow forests include the responsible and selective harvesting of high-value trees. In this way, land trusts, environmental groups, land owners, foresters, and businesses can all work together in ensuring the vitality of some of our lands.

Native Hawaiian forests, and the koa that grow in them, have been greatly diminished by logging, conversion to pasture, and introduced animals such as deer and goats that chew, dig and stomp on them. Invasive species such as the thorny and vicious gorse, which arrived by accident in sheep’s wool, thrive in forest gaps and open pastures.

The conscious cultivation and harvesting of koa forests would strengthen Hawaii’s native ecosystems, and would help manage invasive species that would otherwise take over the islands.

One of Taylor Guitars’ priorities is to source wood in ways that conserve forests and provide for the communities around them. In Honduras, Taylor partners with GreenWood Global, a non-profit organization dedicated to training indigenous communities how to sustainably harvest –and profit from– their forests. Similarly, Taylor Guitars is a partner in an ebony mill in Cameroon. Presenting the company with an award for corporate excellence, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that “Bob and Taylor Guitars have fundamentally changed the entire ebony trade,” making it “safer and more ethical, and—guess what—more lucrative than ever before.”

Bob Taylor is pictured here with a guitar made from 20 year old koa. The guitar on the left is made from toon, an exotic tree already abundant in Hawaii. Toon may be a suitable replacement for mahogany in guitars: another example of Paniolo’s commitment to innovation.

Steve McMinn, founder of Pacific Rim Tonewoods, grew up in a very small community on the Olympic Peninsula, spending his days fishing in creeks, walking through the woods, playing on the beaches. He worked on logging crews to put himself through college. The beauty of the natural world and the necessity of care-taking wilderness areas has always been part of Steve’s world view.

Steve, personally, and Pacific Rim Tonewoods, as a business, have long been committed to responsible stewardship. Every log is hand-selected. PRT builds things to last; other green practices include recycling, minimizing waste, finding new uses for by-products, and improving energy efficiency. PRT’s own forest conservation initiatives now include scientific research on how best to propagate desirable lines of maple and koa so that reforestation is a financially sustainable enterprise.