According to the United Nations aviation division, carbon emissions from air travel are on track to triple by 2050 if no action is taken. Travelers are becoming more aware of this responsibility and are seeking experiences to become better citizens of the world.

IMG_6209 Oahu's Gunstock Ranch

Hilton Hotels in Hawaii offer a list of ecotourism activities to help guests give back to the islands. Many are located at farms and ranches located about one hour from Waikiki Beach. Either rent a car of hire Charley’s Taxi Charter to drive through the center of the third largest Hawaiian Island, to see a more exotic and natural environment, before arriving to the Hawaiian Legacy Forest at Gunstock Ranch.

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Visitors have the opportunity to walk the footsteps of Hawaiian royalty and support the island’s conservation efforts. This 600 acres working cattle ranch is located at the base of the majestic Ko’olau Mountains. Birds sing, the wind whispers, and the earth thrives at this location.

When the owners purchased this land years ago, they discovered only four native plants on the property. Gunstock Ranch guests can be a part of Hawaii’s history by planting a Legacy Tree to increase the Hawaiian Legacy Forest. The Milo tree was a favorite to the great warrior, diplomat and leader King Kamehameha. It’s dense wood was used for bowls and carving a canoe. Not only do these trees grow tall fast, but they produce a heart shaped leaf.

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To help support their efforts to reforest their land with native plants, the ranch offers family-friendly opportunities including horseback rides, off-road experiences, walking and hiking tours to some of the most spectacular ocean views on the windward side of Oahu. Along the walk or drive are signs listing corporate sponsors such as All Nippon Airways (ANA). According to Ty, one of the ranch handlers, ANA has donated one million dollars to plant Milo trees. “They are committed to reduce global warming and build a sustainable society. In return they earn carbon credits from the Hawaiian government.”

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I learned ANA planted 520 legacy trees in Kahuku to represent the number of seats on board a plane that flies to Oahu. For almost two years, Gunstock Ranch has planted over 3,000 saplings to offset the carbon of a family of four, and is filling the earth with light and warmth.

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Personally planting a milo tree is a special ceremony. Not only do guests get to choose a small sapling, but also the location of where to have the tree grow. Ranch handlers provide nutritious potting soil and water for the tree dedication. The tree is uniquely paired to each person through GPS technology, allowing visitors to monitor it’s growth on a return visit. Guests receive a certificate as a souvenir with all the information to keep or give as a gift to a loved one.

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Next time you travel to Oahu for work or vacation, visit Gunstock Ranch and learn how this cattle ranch is providing an important way to improve the health of Oahu and, on a small scale, the health of the whole planet. The King’s trees offsets carbon pollution throughout its life.