DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
PETER T. YOUNG, CHAIRPERSON
Phone: (808) 587-0401
Fax: (808) 587-0390
For Immediate Release:
Tropical Forests In Pacific
HONOLULU—Governor Linda Lingle
announced today that the state and the USDA Forest Service are establishing
the first experimental tropical forest program in Hawai‘i and the Pacific.
Two sites on the Big Island – a wet forest and a dry one – have been
identified for this purpose.
“This is the start of a historic new partnership between the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Forest Service to improve management, protection and use of our forests and begin long-term studies on the effects of global warming and other topics,” Governor Lingle said.
“We anticipate this research will enhance techniques for invasive species control, native forest restoration and growing koa and other commercial timber species in a sustainable manner, while helping us better manage public uses in our forests.”
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Feb. 24 approved the use of public lands at Laupahoehoe in North Hilo and Pu`u Wa`a Wa`a in North Kona for the experimental tropical forests.
DLNR will now develop a memorandum of understanding with the Forest Service regarding establishment and administration of the experimental forests, and will subsequently coordinate research and management activities.
Governor Lingle presented USDA Associate Chief Sally Collins with a letter for USDA Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns requesting his concurrence on the two recommended sites.
“On behalf of Secretary of Agriculture Johanns, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth and the entire Forest Service, we are pleased to expand our partnership with Governor Lingle and the State of Hawai`i to establish these unique experimental tropical forests,” Collins said.
“We look forward to working with DLNR and other state agencies, universities, other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, private industry and the local community on the Big Island to make these world-class research sites serve many needs,” Collins added.
According to Collins, the scientific studies will make great strides in fulfilling goals of the 1992 Hawai`i Tropical Forest Recovery Act and the 1994 Hawai`i Tropical Forest Recovery Action Plan.
The Recovery Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, states that: “the Governor [of Hawai`i] and the Secretary [of Agriculture] shall identify one or more suitable sites for the [experimental] forest in lands within the State.”
Boone Kauffman, who directs the Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Island Forestry on the Big Island, said the experimental forests “will simultaneously provide research and learning opportunities for world-class scientists and students of all ages.”
“In addition to research findings, the experimental forests will offer important demonstration and education opportunities for future generations of landowners, land managers, scientists, students, teachers and the public,” Kauffman said.
“This collaboration represents the most important and significant event in the history of the long and close relationship between DLNR and the Forest Service,” said DLNR Chairperson Peter Young.
“Hawaiian tropical forests are the only forests in the United States without representative experimental forests,” Young said. “Now researchers and our citizens will participate in and benefit from important scientific studies of the ecosystem and the associated economic, ecological and cultural values they represent.”
Young noted the designated study sites encompass remarkable gradients of climate, forest, soils and resource history, and will be among the most remarkable and unique experimental forests on earth.
The Laupahoehoe site contains magnificent examples of primary wet forest and rainforest and is home to many endangered plant and animal species. Located near former sugarcane lands, the site also contains old timber plantations, degraded native forest pastures and numerous streams, making it suitable for studies of commercial koa timber production and invasive species and watershed management
The Pu‘u Wa‘a Wa‘a site is a tropical dry forest, which is among the world’s most endangered forest types. There are no other experimental tropical dry forests in the U.S. and very few worldwide. Research at this site will focus on overcoming barriers to dry forest re-establishment, halting wildfires, controlling invasive species and managing wildlife game and endangered species.
In selecting the Big Island sites, DLNR and the Forest Service considered scientific, ecological and administrative factors. They also held public meetings and worked with other state and federal agencies, the University of Hawai`i, the Hawai`i Association of Conservation Districts, the Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Advisory Council, the Natural Area Reserves Advisory Council and local residents.