Survey and Mapping of Rapid Ohia Death in Hawaii

Project: Research project

Project Details


Mapping of ohia forests on Hawaii and Maui Islands using a unique technology carried today
only onboard the Carnegie Airborne Observatory or CAO (
called laser-guided imaging spectroscopy (LGIS), measures the fine chemical properties of forest
canopies in 3-D to detect area affected by Rapid Ohia Death (ROD).

No other operational LGIS capabilities exist in the U.S. civil or military sectors.
LGIS is an approach invented and operationalized by scientists at the Carnegie Institution for
the purpose of rapidly advancing ecosystem mapping in support of management, conservation
and resource policy actions (Asner et al. 2012).

Remote sensing has been identified as a critically important contributor to forthcoming
management strategies intending to control the spread of ROD. Without remote sensing that
details the condition of each tree among all trees in the forest, field crews will not know where
to apply tactical control measures to contain the disease. The remote sensing needs to be
detailed from a biological standpoint, rather than from the traditional remote sensing
standpoint of broad thematic maps of forest cover often reported by mapping scientists. The
imagery is 3D to provide an understanding of the size and structure of the trees affected, while
the spectral data provide a clear detection of which trees have died , and which trees are in
jeopardy of dying. It is also straightforward to detect and map live, healthy trees.
The Big Island was previously mapped twice using this technology and if a clear picture is to be
painted we need to compare the same types of images over time. Adding Maui to the survey
area allows us to establish a baseline for ohia forests there before the disease spreads to that

We will map as much of the Big Island and Maui as is possible, and we will produce maps of the
potential locations of Rapid Ohia Death (ROD). We will provide the maps in GIS-compatible
format the DOFAW and its partnering agencies.
Effective start/end date1/1/1910/31/19


  • Hawaii, State of: $146,758.00


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