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Stanford biologist working to restore native forests to Hawaii

There's trouble in paradise. In Hawaii, where cattle have dotted the landscape for decades, ranching is becoming less profitable. Some landowners are cashing in on the vacation resort market by developing their land with high-rise hotels, cottages and "ranchettes."

But a group from Stanford University's Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) is working to make restoration of native forests just as economically attractive. They will be presenting their research Dec. 13 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.

"Right now, nature is an all-you-can-eat buffet-there's nothing stopping people from pigging out," said Gretchen Daily, director of the Tropical Research Program at CCB. "The focus of my research has been figuring out ways to reward people for good table manners."

Convincing environmentalists and landowners to work together can be difficult. Their goals often conflict, since conservationists often advocate leaving the land alone-preventing the harvest of resources.

Daily, an associate professor (research) of biological sciences at Stanford, is studying a possible solution to this dilemma in the Kona district of Hawaii-a win-win scenario in which replanting of native forests can not only restore a damaged ecosystem but also provide a renewable source of profit. The lessons learned here-about quantifying the benefits supplied by nature and creating incentives to protect them-are likely to be relevant in many other parts of the world, Daily said.

She is working with an interdisciplinary team of Stanford scholars, including Meg Caldwell and Buzz Thompson in the Law School; Pamela Matson, dean of the School of Earth Sciences; Roz Naylor in the Stanford Institute for International Studies; and Paul Ehrlich and Peter Vitousek in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Restoring a key species

The focus of Daily's efforts in Hawaii is the restoration of koa, a species of a
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
8-Dec-2004


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