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Course on Pacific Island Tropical Natural Resource Management offered

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Date: Monday, June 23, 2003
Contact: Dr. Randal Senock, (808) 974-7676

For Immediate Release

UH Hilo Forestry students preparing for measuring water quality in the Hakalau stream.

As part of the University of Hawai`i at Hilo's Summer 2003 program "Our Island Environment: A Living, Learning Laboratory," the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management will again offer a special program in July focused on tropical island land use management.

Coordinated by Dr. Randy Senock, the program consists of two modular courses that attempt to bridge many of the land and water resource issues that currently impact the people of oceanic islands. This year's program consists of back-to-back two-week intensive courses focusing on both the terrestrial and aquatic environments and their unique connection as part of a Pacific Island ecosystem. The first class (Island Stream Water and Coastal Zone Ecology, 4 credits) will be held June 30 through July 11 and will feature numerous field sampling trips and hands-on exposure to the field techniques used in a watershed scale land use monitoring project on the windward side of the Big Island. The second course (Tropical Forest Ecosystem and Land use Management, 4 credits) will also be held June 30 through July 11 and will use numerous field trips to explore the many different and unique Big Island environments in order to gain an appreciation for Pacific Island ecosystem management at a larger scale.

Charlie Chong, an aquatic biologist with the Lanikila Learning Center and Ka Pouhana Family Life Center, will lead the first course focusing on the freshwater streams of Oceanic Islands that provide the linkage corridors between the upland terrestrial ecosystems and the near shore coastal marine ecosystems.

"In Hawai`i all five native fish species, two native crustacea species, and two native mollusc species exhibit the amphidromous life history cycles which they spend part of their lives in both fresh and salt water," Chong explained. "This 'green-blue' connection then elevates watershed management to a ecosystem perspective because of the varying impacts of different land uses on the riparian zones that border the streamwater environments as well as direct impacts on streamwater quality." The course will be field oriented focusing on sampling of the basic physical parameters (pH, turbidity, temperature, nutrients), quantification of algae and invertebrates at different elevations, and population sampling of native amphidromous macrofaunal species. The data will then be examined in relation to the different land uses within contrasting watersheds on the Big Island.

"Everything ends up in our streams," Chong added. "If one wants to examine what is happening in a watershed, the stream is a good place to start."

The second course is offered in conjunction with Oregon State University under the guidance of Dr. David Perry, professor emeritus in the College of Forestry. This course is intended to introduce students to concepts of ecosystem management and explore how those concepts apply to the tropics in general and Hawai`i in particular. Much of the focus will be on forests and the forms forestry might take within an ecosystem management framework. The course will explicitly recognize that ecosystem management demands an integrated view of possible types of land use, with the appropriate mix being a function of societal objectives and scientific evaluation of what best meets those objectives.

"The Big Island of Hawai'i offers easy access to several ecosystems, including a Montane Cloud Forest, Wet Tropical Lowland Forest, and a Dryland Tree Shrub Forest," Senock said. "Numerous field trips will allow students to visit these unique ecosystems and hear first-hand from several local authorities about the historical and contemporary events that have influenced the Island's environments."

A special guest in this year's program will be Dr. John Hayes, professor of wildlife management at OSUCOF. "Management of habitat and land uses on the landscape is directly related to management of both game and non-game species," Hayes said.

The class will visit the Pohakuloa Training Area where management of ungulate game species such as sheep and goats directly impact the higher elevation mamane forests and ultimately the non-game pallia bird populations. Lena Schnell, natural resource specialist with PTA, will lead a field excursion to view first-hand the landscape features associated with different population levels on the military lands.

For further information on the program or on individual classes, contact the UH Hilo College of Continuing Education and Community Service Summer Program at (808) 974-7664 or Dr. Randy Senock at (808) 974-7676.

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