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.

Hilo, Hawaiʻi - Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry

Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry

Research:
Cover image for the PSW Partners In Science Publication
Partners in Science, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, PSW. [Download]
USDA, Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Research Station

Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry
60 Nowelo Street
Hilo, HI 96720
Ph: (808) 933-8121
Fx: (808) 933-8120

Mission


Map of Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. (Courtesy of the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program)

Through research, knowledge sharing, and partnership the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF) provides scientific and technical information needed to restore, conserve, and sustain tropical forests and wetlands of the Pacific.

Since 1956, IPIF has been serving the research, development, demonstration, and technical assistance needs of Hawaiʻi and the US Affiliated Pacific (see map), a highly diverse geographical area the size of the continental United States. The Institute meets the diverse information needs of natural resource managers across the Pacific, as well as leading cutting edge tropical research, through the work of Institute-based research staff, who lead core science programs in a wide range of problem areas including: restoration silviculture, wetland systems management, invasive species control, ecological management of invaded ecosystems, the ecology and recovery of threatened, endangered, and at risk species (TER), understanding and managing climate change impacts, and carbon cycling science and management.

Research

The Institute operates under a geographically-based research portfolio and the Pacific Southwest Research Station Charter. The portfolio represents three themes addressing the frontiers of natural resources science and management in Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific, as well as frontiers in tropical ecology and natural resources science broadly.

Science to Understand and Address Landscape Change


Landscape view of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa highlighting the close connections from the mountain to the sea. (Rob Schallenberger)

The key outcomes of this research theme are solutions to the Pacific’s most pressing problems, resulting in improved condition of our forests and grasslands, sustainable ecosystems, and support for the people sustained by these systems. Research initiatives addressing landscape change include:

  1. Investigate the spread, distribution, function and control of invasive species and their impact on island communities and ecosystems to inform management and policy.
  2. Use long-term research to characterize and monitor how ecosystem structure, function, dynamics, and composition respond over decades to stressors and change.
  3. Integrate social systems into natural science and economic research to promote sustaining and resilient landscapes.
  4. Improve our understanding of the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and drivers of environmental change

Science Driven Strategies to Promote Diverse and Productive Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems


User interface of the Webtool for monitoring fire risk conditions. (Arizona State University)

This theme focuses on the development of novel conservation-based tools, solutions, and strategies for resource management and ecosystems in a changing world. Pacific Island watersheds, mangroves, and streams support unique assemblages of wildlife and plants. This not only results in high levels of species endemism, but the provision of biological and cultural sustenance vital for human existence across the Pacific region.

  1. Use and develop innovative tools and techniques to assess, collect, organize, analyze and convey conservation-based information.
  2. Promote, develop, and maintain decision support systems (DSS) and participatory approaches to guide the prioritization of watershed focused conservation activities and adaptive management, with a particular emphasis on ridge to reef linkages mediated by hydrological connections of upland watersheds and coastal and near shore ecosystems.
  3. Balance human need with conservation efforts and ecological functions in upland watersheds and coastal forests.
  4. Examine options to manage environmental stressors to sustain watershed function and health.

Island Biocultural Science and Stewardship


Class session of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa, a Native Hawaiian lifeways professional development program integrating traditional and western knowledge systems

Biocultural Science is defined as the interaction between biological adaptations and cultural constructions. Such knowledge is increasingly sought for national and global assessments of landscape health and quality of life, and relies on research that approaches landscapes as coupled human and natural systems. The Institute relies on a place-based, knowledge-sharing approach as part of our core science mission; to best serve the people of the Pacific, it is critical to recognize that ecosystems of the Pacific are fundamentally coupled to humans through millennia of sustainable use and management for abundance.

  1. Utilize the human dimensions science of biocultural, community-led knowledge systems for informed stewardship, with a special focus on understanding how humans and resources are linked via coupled human and natural systems methodologies.
  2. Assess the economic value of services provided by coupled human and natural systems to promote conservation and sustainable use.
  3. Understand the role of community-based forestry and community-based natural resource management in contemporary contexts, and as providing novel community / agency hybrid solutions to pressing conservation problems.