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.

Research Topics

Ecosystem Processes: Tropical Ecosystems

[Photo]: redox. Our mission is to develop and implement knowledge needed to restore, protect, and sustain upland and wetland forests of the Pacific for purposes of conservation and use.

Research and Technical Assistance Emphases:

Invasive Species: Invasive exotic species are a major threat to Pacific Island forests. In Hawaii , almost 1100 exotic plants have naturalized during the last 200 years. Of these, more than 100 pose significant threats to native ecosystems and species, altering ecosystems processes such as regeneration, nutrient availability, water supply, fire regimes and biodiversity. More than half of these species were intentionally introduced to Hawai'i for their potential utility in forestry, horticulture and ranching. The Forest Service's Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry is one of the few federal laboratories whose mission includes research and control of invasive plants in native ecosystems.

Restoration of Ecosystem Processes: The research team is determining how to put tropical forests back on lands that were cleared for agriculture that were unsustainable. Such forests have immense conservation and economic value, serving as habitat for Hawaii's record-high numbers of threatened and endangered species as well as offering a mix of harvestable (e.g., wood, water, game animals) and non-consumable (e.g., ecotourism, recreation, esthetic) products of great economic importance to the State.

Forested Wetlands on Pacific Islands: We research on basic ecological processes in mangrove forests and freshwater swamps. Efforts are underway to incorporate the process of adaptive management into sustainable natural resource management in developing countries. Research is based primarily on the island of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, where mangrove forests (shown in green on the right) account for 15% of the land area. Freshwater swamps just inland from the mangroves probably account for another 15%. Approximately 8,000 people live on this 100-sq km island, primarily on the coastal plain behind the mangroves.

Forest Management Services: In addition to research, the Station hosts a Forest Management Services team at the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. The team assists island forest management agencies, community groups and non-industrial private forest landowners with sustainable management of forest resources by providing expertise in applying the results of research and developing policy options. The team provides staff training and technical assistance to island foresters, and leadership and education support for leaders and citizens in forest conservation. Team members are funded by the State and Private Forestry and International Forestry programs.