USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest

Celebrating 10 years in the experimental forest and range network

A view from the ground looking up at the trees and sky in the Laupahoehoe unit of the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest.
Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest, Laupāhoehoe, Island of Hawai‘i.
(U.S. Forest Service)

The Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest (HETF) was established in 2007 and celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017. HETF serves as a center for long-term research developing expertise in the management of tropical forests. Programming focuses on a holistic approach that combines research and science education with community connections.

6 Primary Research Themes

  1. Understand the composition, structure and function of tropical wet and dry forest ecosystems, including terrestrial and freshwater components and associated near shore marine ecosystems.
  2. Determine how biological and physical factors influence the function and health of tropical ecosystems, including freshwater and near shore marine environments.
  3. Develop models and tools to quantify and predict ecosystem responses to climate change and evaluate management options for restoring and sustaining ecosystem function.
  4. Identify conditions needed to: (a) support terrestrial, freshwater and associated near-shore marine biodiversity; (b) develop innovative and cost-efficient approaches to reduce the ecological impacts of non-native species; and (3) restore degraded ecosystems.
  5. Improve measurement, modeling, and prediction of wildland fire and determine the ecological effects of fire and post-fire management strategies.
  6. Integrate research objectives, approaches, and applications with local communities and traditional Hawaiian resource values, uses, and management.

HETF unit Locations

The HETF covers about 51,000 acres on Hawai‘i Island, is part of the U.S. Forest Service's experimental forest and range network, and is co-managed in partnership with Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

The experimental forest is comprised of two "units" on opposite sides of Hawai‘i Island, which epitomize both wet and dry forest tropical ecosystem conditions. The Laupāhoehoe Unit (wet forest) encompasses about 12,000 acres of tropical rain forest on the island's eastern Hamakua Coast, and the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Unit (dry forest) is comprised of about 39,000 acres, near North Kona on the west side of Hawai‘i Island. Each unit represents a unique and diverse tropical ecosystem with distinctive:

  • Climate
  • Soil types
  • Forest types
  • Life zones

For more information about our partners, visit the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Approximate Reference Locations for the HETF

Laupāhoehoe Unit, Lat. 19.80528 N, Long. 155.26917 W
Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Unit, Lat. 19.73194 N, Long. 155.88611 W

Contact Information

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry
60 Nowelo St.
Hilo, HI 96720

Susan Cordell, Ph.D.
Phone: 808-854-2628