Natural Resources and Environmental Management
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The Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death Working Group—also known as the ROD Squad—was formed to respond to the new disease threatening Hawai‘i’s most important native forest tree. With nearly 200 individuals representing state, county, federal, university, and non-profit organizations; local and private businesses; and private citizens, the group facilitates inclusive communication on all issues related to the fungal disease and shares knowledge on a regular basis among group members, their organizations, and the people of Hawai‘i.
Wildland fire expert and 2019 winner of the Excellence in Extension award Clay Trauernicht (NREM) was recently interviewed by Noe Tanigawa on Hawai‘i Public Radio’s Planet 808 show about the increasing danger of wildfire in the Islands and its connection with climate change.
UH plays a vital role in researching and raising awareness of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD), a disease that is killing off the native and iconic ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree. CTAHR and other UH scientists are working with state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations to learn about this disease and to assess what can be done to protect ‘ōhi‘a for future generations.
JB Friday (NREM) joined Marian Chau of the Lyon Arboretum, Lisa Keith of USDA ARS, and Kumu Kehaulani Kekua of Kaua‘i for in-depth interviews about Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death on the PBS program Insights. The experts explained the recently discovered pathogens that cause it and how it is spread by burrowing ambrosia beetles that create fungus-imbued sawdust, which floats over forest canopies and infects other trees.
Sustainability in agriculture isn’t just about using practices that don’t harm the environment, crucial though that is; another important aspect is being able to make enough money to keep producing. That’s a big part of what agricultural economics focuses on, and CTAHR will be better equipped to help farmers with this now that Sarah Rehkamp (NREM) will soon be starting as the new assistant Extension agent in Ag Economics.
Up, up, and away! Want to know more about growing jet fuel from plants? Junior researcher Adel Youkhana (NREM), Richard Ogoshi (TPSS, retired), and their co-authors recently published a new paper in Energy & Fuel Journal, “Review of Biomass Resources and Conversion Technologies for Alternative Jet Fuel Production in Hawai’i and Tropical Regions.”
Wildfires are a serious concern, in the Islands as well as on the Mainland. Wildland fire expert Clay Trauernicht (NREM) recently gave a presentation on this timely subject on Maui, in which he explained that since 72 percent of wildfires with known causes are accidental, that means they can be prevented, and the time for prevention is now!
Shannon Sand (NREM) will be the new assistant Extension agent in Agricultural Finance. Based out of the Komohana Agriculture Research & Extension Center in Hilo, she will have state-wide responsibilities. Shannon has earned master’s degrees in Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, and Food and Resource Economics. Please welcome her when she starts work in June!
A new study, co-authored by NREM’s Kimberly Carlson, suggests that only one third of global sugarcane production complies with Bonsucro, the leading sustainability standard for sugarcane. “Voluntary Sustainability Standards Could Significantly Reduce Detrimental Impacts of Global Agriculture” was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
A new research paper by Dr. Clay Trauernicht is the first study to link climate change to increasing wildfire probability in Hawai‘i, and one of the few that looks at this question for tropical regions more broadly. He used the “footprints” of historical fires mapped on the Big Island to quantify how vegetation, ignition frequency, and climate contribute to wildfire probability.
A new research paper published by Clay Trauernicht (NREM) in the journal Science of the Total Environment is the first study to link climate change to increasing wildfire probability in Hawai‘i. His analysis indicates that climate change will increase the annual risk of wildfire by as much as 375% for parts of the Big Island and most of this change will happen within the next several decades.
NREM Professor Emeritus Chennat Gopalakrishnan is guest editor of a special issue of the Journal of Natural Resources Policy focused on “Institutional Entropy: Causes, Consequences, and Corrective Measures.” The journal is issuing a call for papers that clarify and illuminate all aspects of institutional entropy, examining in detail its causes and consequences and suggesting possible solutions.
NREM alumna Flavia da Silva, project management specialist for USAID/Timor-Leste, recently led an Ocean Talk at the Our Oceans Conference 2018 along with Timor-Leste Secretary of State for the Environment Demitrio do Amaral de Carvalho. Flavia (right) explained, “Our Oceans Conference was an excellent opportunity for USAID/Timor-Leste to highlight its work on the protection of Timor-Leste’s marine biodiversity."
ROD education and outreach specialist Corie Yanger (NREM) was a significant contributor to the ‘Ōhi‘a Love Festival, hosted by UH and DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife on the Big Island. ROD, or Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, is a fungal disease that has killed off hundreds of thousands of acres of native ‘ōhi‘a forests on the island.
Grad student Hunter Heaivilin (NREM) will be the next presenter at the weekly Seminar Series on Climate Change Adaptation presented by UH Manoa’s Institute for Sustainability and Resilience. He will speak on “Assessment of Climate Change Impact to Hawaii Crops” on October 22, from 12 to 1:20 p.m. (lunch starts at noon, the presentation at 12:15) at the iLab (Building 37).