Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest selected as a candidate core site for the National Ecological Observatory

University of Hawaiʻi
Lawren Sack, (808) 956-9389
UH Manoa
Boone Kauffman, (808) 933-8121
Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry
Posted: Mar 19, 2007

The Laupahoehoe unit of the new Hawaiʻi Experimental Tropical Forest has been selected by the National Ecological Observatory Network to be funded by the National Science Foundation as one of twenty Ecological Observatories to be established across the country. The documents leading to its selection were authored by a group of more than 80 researchers, educators and land managers and led by scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry and the Universities of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and Hilo.

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a 30-year long project designed to thoroughly describe and monitor natural landscapes — including the vegetation, animals, streams and climate across a wide range of ecosystems within the United States. The Laupahoehoe forest on Hawaiʻi island was the only tropical rain forest selected as an observatory.

"The Laupahoehoe unit of the HETF — consisting of 12-thousand acres on the windward slope of Mauna Kea — is an ideal location for a National Ecological Observatory," says Boone Kauffman, Director of the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. "It encompasses a remarkable diversity of forests, streams, and rare and endangered species that make it the perfect place to learn about Hawaiʻi ecosystems."

"Selection of the Laupahoehoe site is very important for the State of Hawaiʻi because it will allow us to find answers to some of our islands‘ most serious and pressing environmental issues," says Becky Ostertag, a UH Hilo science co-leader of the project. "These include climate change, biodiversity loss, invasive species and much more."

"The Ecological Observatory will greatly facilitate efforts in Hawaiʻi to conduct ecological research and monitoring that could help shape land management decisions and greatly improve educational opportunities for students of all ages," says Lawren Sack, NEON project co-leader from UH Manoa. "The project will link important new ecological research in Hawaiʻi with research at other sites across the U.S., enabling local researchers to contribute to the global effort to track, understand and ameliorate the impacts of global change on ecosystems."

"The NSF first proposed the NEON a number of years ago, and we are pleased that progress is being made," says Gary Ostrander, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at UH Manoa. "This will be a unique opportunity for partnerships among the University of Hawaiʻi, other universities and government agencies."

NEON will provide educational opportunities for students and community members to increase their environmental awareness and understanding as research results from Hawaiʻi forest observations become available.

The Pacific NEON coordinating committee is composed of scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.

For more information, visit: http://www.neoninc.org