TropHTIRC Implementation Plan 2011.pdf

Implementation Plan

2011-2016

TropHTIRC: A collaborative national research, development and technology transfer center for tropical hardwood stewardship.

Formulation of the Strategic Plan
The Tropical HTIRC Strategic Plan was formulated by the Steering Committee of the Center after receiving input from a selection of consulting and industry foresters, Hawaii state forester, university scientists, landowner associations, governmental and non-governmental agencies and extension personnel within the Pacific Southwest region of the USA and Hawaii. 

The Strategic Plan identifies four objectives for achieving the Tropical HTIRC's strategic direction: (1) research, development, and technology transfer programs, (2) facilities, (3) staffing and (4) funding. The needs and priorities established in the Plan will be addressed by hiring, soliciting and supporting the best scientists and research programs in the tropical hardwoods region. The principal investigators will in turn be successful in generating the financial support necessary to implement the Plan.

Development of the Implementation Plan
The actions under each objective were prioritized by Tropical HTIRC leadership based on: (1) input from stakeholders, (2) current and anticipated capabilities and strengths of the staff and regional professionals, (3) priorities of collaborators, and (4) current and anticipated funding. The Implementation Plan is designed to coincide with the normal five-year federal planning cycle and priorities will be revisited at the end of FY2016. In addition, the Advisory Committee will provide annual advice on research priorities and will suggest re-prioritization of objectives as necessary.

Nationalization of the Implementation Plan
All of the research, development and technology transfer objectives address issues for hardwood regeneration in Hawai'i. Specific elements are:

1. Conventional tree improvement

 - Development of a research program for Acacia koa that will increase productivity through improvement of growth, form, wood quality, precocity, and resistance to abiotic and biotic stressors.

2. Hardwood genomics and biotechnologies
 - Development of molecular markers for genetic mapping and population genetics studies
 - Identification of functional genes and determination of their function

3. Propagation technologies, seed production and handling, and nursery management
 - Develop clonal propagation technologies
 - Develop advanced seed orchards and seed handling technologies
 - Develop methods for production of high quality nursery seedling stock including container production

4. Hardwood forest regeneration

 - Develop tree planting systems for hardwood container stock
 - Develop and test plantation establishment regimes for hardwoods including studies of the influence of seedling physiology on early growth
 - Develop silvicultural systems for mixed tropical hardwoods including an in depth understanding of crop tree response to thinning
 - Develop best management practices for maintaining genetic quality and diversity of tropical hardwood forests
 - Develop restoration techniques for high-graded hardwood stands

5. Hardwood protection
 - Develop novel control and management strategies for major invasive plants and forest pests including introduced exotics
 - Determine strategies to mitigate forest decline caused by global climate change

6. Hardwood utilization
 - Develop expanded markets for the hardwood industry to improve international competitiveness

Administration
Program administration will integrate policy, planning, research, development, extension, education, and management of the Program to insure an orderly implementation of the Strategic Plan. The administration interacts with USDA Forest Service administrators, the Tropical HTIRC Coordinating and Advisory Committees, and local, state, regional and national organizations in planning and implementing activities. Since the goals of the HTIRC require additional support than what can be expected from appropriated funds, program administration will seek to form strategic partnerships with other federal and state agencies and universities and to obtain funding from agencies and associations whose missions support hardwood tree genetics.

Expected impacts
1. Staff productivity will be increased thereby increasing the impact of the Program on the region's resources.
2. Increased core funding will be dedicated to supporting research and development that addresses the highest priority issues and needs.
3. Overall program funding will rise through new partnerships, contracts and grants, and external foundations.

Expected milestones
1. Research on additional tropical hardwood species will occur and objectives will be refined through development of study plans and demonstration activities.
2. Graduate students will be trained to work on integrated research problems and learn how to perform team-oriented research that affects human populations.
3. Federal government, academia, and industry will develop closer ties through joint projects that establish new linkages with private entities interested in hardwood tree research.

Education
The undergraduate and graduate education function of the HTIRC will be to develop future hardwood researchers and practitioners who are knowledgeable in hardwood genetics, nursery production, and plantation and forest management. These students will be trained to be forest geneticists, tree improvement specialists, propagators, nursery managers, silviculturists, forest health specialists and extension agents. In addition, Tropical HTIRC will explore participation in high school science education in order to stimulate interest in Tropical HTIRC research programs.

Expected impacts
Ten graduate and 20 undergraduate students will be educated and trained by Tropical HTIRC and be available for employment with universities, state and federal agencies, NGOs, and private industry.

Expected milestones
Nationally and internationally, students will recognize the HTIRC in the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources as a desirable institution to receive education and training in hardwood tree improvement, ecology, regeneration, silviculture, and protection.
Some doctoral and post-doctoral students who have been trained at the Tropical HTIRC will continue hardwood research programs at other institutions and increase the level of research being performed on hardwood trees.

Outreach
One function of Tropical HTIRC will be to transfer unbiased science-based technology and information to end users through:
 - Extension and communication specialists in the USDA Forest Service, University of Hawai'i, and Purdue University
 - Partnering organizations throughout the tropical hardwoods region;
 - Researchers who conduct technology transfer activities at the end of a research project.
 - Extension specialists will conduct applied research and interact with basic researchers to insure that information is transferred to clients (landowners, industrial foresters, and consulting foresters) and the scientific community and that newly developed technologies are applied to real life situations.

Expected impacts
Access and use of Tropical HTIRC science-based information is expected to increase over the next 5 years. A wider audience will have access to this information and improve their decision-making in woodlot and forest management.
Over 100 landowners, 5 industrial foresters, and 10 consulting foresters will trained in seed handling, tree planting, plantation establishment, and plantation management.
Over 10 new or updated brochures will be produced and disseminated by hard copy and web-based acquisition.
Forest landowners will receive periodic updates of research and development activities through e-mail distribution.

Expected milestones
 - Access to Tropical HTIRC products and information will improve through website design for ease of use and ordering systems for hard copy materials.
 - Landowners, nursery managers, and consulting foresters will rely on the Tropical HTIRC as the leading source for information on tropical hardwood production and management.
 - Tropical HTIRC will host scientific conferences and forums/symposia at suitable national and regional conferneces 
 - Hardwood silviculture field days, seed conditioning workshops, tree seed collection, native plant seed testing and hardwood nursery workshops will be held on a routine basis.
 - Current events of interest to hardwood researchers and practitioners will be posted on the website.

Research and Development
Research and development projects will be conducted that address nine issues affecting hardwood production and utilization in the Hawaiian tropical hardwoods region. These issues are:
1. Lack of knowledge of hardwood genes and their function for use in domestication
2. Lack of improved seeds and propagules
3. Lack of biotic resistance (insect, disease) in some tropical hardwood germplasm
4. Lack of seed collection, conditioning, storage, and movement guidelines
5. Lack of information on genetic diversity of seed sources and hardwood forests and the affects caused by landscape and climate change
6. Lack of technologies for quick and efficient seed production
7. Lack of optimized container production systems for hardwoods
8. Lack of reliable silvicultural systems for hardwood plantations and native forests
9. Lack of improved utilization and marketing tools

For plantation hardwood forests, staff will develop a genomics research effort for identification of important genes and determination of their function. From this basic work and in association with classical breeding, traits will be targeted for improvement that will lead to domestication and efficient production of selected tropical hardwood species. Once improved seed and other propagules are available, seed orchard and hardwood propagation systems will be developed for delivery of this improved germplasm. At the same time, modified silvicultural systems will be developed for these domesticated trees. For native forests, staff will develop molecular markers for use in assessment of hardwood genetic diversity and assessment of any changes that occur through use of dysgenic forest harvest practices. Silviculturists will test methods for restoring genetic diversity and develop best management practices that will insure maintenance of genetic and biological diversity. For both native and plantation forests, novel strategies will be developed for control and management of major forest invasive plants, pests and pathogens including exotics. In addition, research will be conducted and strategies will be developed to address effects of climate change on forest health. Scientists and research professionals will form partnerships and seek input from consulting foresters, landowners, industry practitioners, and tree improvement and nursery specialists to identify research issues and current practices.

Expected Impacts
Nursery managers will have a better understanding of hardwood seed handling and storage technologies and nursery production of certain tropical hardwood species will increase.
Hardwood seed production will be more efficient and will significantly increase due to new seed orchard technologies.
Nursery managers will have new container production methods available to them for implementation.
Genetic gains (2% annually) will be realized through breeding, selection and clonal propagation technologies.
Seedlings with figured grain will be available for commercial production and will provide products with up to 50 times the economic return of non-figured grain lumber.
Control of sapwood/heartwood in koa will reduce the rotation age of plantation koa by 10 years.
The acreage of high valued plantation hardwoods in Hawai'i will increase by 10% by 2016.
Plans for expansion of hardwood markets will be developed and new tools will be developed to improve utilization of the current resource.

Expected milestones
Wilt resistant koa will be screened and selected for new intercrosses and seed orchard establishment
Koa breeding orchards and progeny tests will be established and selections/families will be deployed through state nurseries and potential private interests
Seed zones will be established for movement of hardwood seed and seedlings in Hawai'i.
Best Management Practices for forest management will be developed to deter harvesting that leads to high-graded forests and to insure maintenance of hardwood genetic diversity.
Hardwood plantations will reduce the harvest pressure on natural forests.

Cooperators

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