Research Highlights - Forest Restoration
The CAO is providing land managers in Hawaii with powerful tools to map and monitor threats to last remaining dry tropical forests from invasive plant and animal species. In collaboration with the Department of Defense and USDA Forest Service, these tools generate detailed maps throughout large geographic areas that support better decision-making and rigorous conservation and management.
A fundamental challenge to effective conservation and management of dry tropical forests rests in the ability to assess consequences of management actions at relevant spatial scales. Invasions of non-native species are occurring at scales larger than most field experiments, and cost millions of dollars in costly mitigation efforts. In the Hawaiian Islands, feral goats in particular have decimated native plant populations, and facilitated the success of exotic, African grasses and persistent grass-fire cycles.
The CAO is quantifying impacts of invasive herbivores and mapping locations of native and invasive plants using three-dimensional remote sensing technology. CAO imagery reveals the extent of biological invasion and impacts of grazing herbivores on Hawaiian drylands. The image on the right is a 1 km2 of dry tropical forest mapped at high spatial resolution using the CAO spectrometer and LiDAR systems. The CAO data were processed to identify green vegetation (green), dry vegetation (blue) and exposed rock or soil substrate (red) in three-dimensions. These three components help to characterize the extent of biological invasion and herbivore impacts throughout large areas.