VISION: A climate-vegetation observatory for building capacity to understand, conserve, and manage Hawaiian forest ecosystems in a rapidly changing world
The Hawai’i Permanent Plot Network (HIPPNET) was initiated in 2007 by faculty and research ecologists at the University of Hawaii, USDA Forest Service, and UCLA to investigate forest dynamics across the Island of Hawai’i.
The long-term goal is to establish large-scale, permanent plots in native-dominated forest across elevation and precipitation gradients throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Long-term forest dynamics plots have been established worldwide; these plots establish Hawai’i as part of the The Center for Tropical Forest Science and Forest Global Earth Observatories (CTFS-ForestGEO) network.
Four plots Island of Hawai’i have been established within the network: the Laupāhoehoe plot represents montane wet forest, the Palamanui plot represents lowland dry forest, the Mamalahoa plot represents ‘ōhi’a dominated dry forest, and the Sanctuary plot at Puʻu Waʻawaʻa represents montane mesic forest.
In keeping with protocols used for creating permanent plots in temperate and tropical forests worldwide, all of the plots are located in areas with good access, strong commitment from landholders and local communities toward conservation, and high native species cover. The permanent plots are established following widely used protocols developed for tropical and temperate forests by the CTFS-ForestGEO. Within each plot all free-standing native woody plants ≥1 cm in diameter are tagged and mapped. The forest plots will be re-censused every 5 years, with some annual surveys when possible.
The data collected through coordinated projects carried out at the HIPPNET sites will enable the University of Hawaii and collaborators to become leaders in numerous important areas of ecology and will add substantially to our understanding of forest dynamics.