University of Hawai'i at Mānoa


Originally founded in 1973 as a research unit within the National Park Service, the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) evolved into a University of Hawaii (UH) research unit focusing on basic and applied research on biodiversity and natural resources in Hawai`i and the Pacific. PCSU has maintained membership in the Hawai`i-Pacific Branch of the national Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) Network since 2004.

While PCSU projects have ranged as far afield as China, Brazil and Alaska, our main focus is on Hawai`i, where we administer projects on all of the main Hawaiian islands. Our unit works with a broad range of state and federal agencies, private foundations, landowners, conservation organizations, and community stakeholders to address environmental challenges that threaten the sustainability of our island ecosystems by bringing together parties that might otherwise have difficulty establishing and maintaining collaborative relationships, we are able to facilitate projects achieving the economy of scale needed for addressing landscape and ecosystem level problems.

For nearly half a century, PCSU has provided on-site and administrative expertise and logistical support to foster success through inclusion, equity, and cooperation. This approach continues to yield funding and strong local buy-in that supports the lasting partnerships across diverse stakeholder communities which is needed to restore degraded natural ecosystems and conserve endangered species. At PCSU, we measure our efficacy through the enduring success of our partners and projects. PCSU projects such as Watershed Partnerships and island Invasive Species Committees are long-lived, community-based projects active throughout the main Hawaiian Islands, which are guided by informal steering committees of state and local officials, interested landowners, and local community members.

Today, PCSU operates over 40 projects across the state of Hawai`i. Since the 1990s, the unit's administration of funding has grown from $2 million to nearly $25 million annually, and our projects employ over 300 people across the state. PCSU projects provide a critically important employment pathway into the natural resource management and the environmental jobs sector in Hawai`i.

In January of 2020, we were established as a formal unit within the College of Natural Sciences (CNS). This move represents an important step in PCSU's evolution and provide new opportunities to strengthen ties with other programs and units throughout the UH system and beyond. Through enhanced relationships and expanded access to expertise throughout the UH system we are better able to meet the needs of our projects, partners and our community than ever before.

Unchanged since our inception is PCSU's commitment to supporting, and acknowledging the many projects, partners, students, and collaborators throughout the UH system, and the people of Hawai`i who have come together to address ecosystem-scale challenges for nearly 50 years.

To learn more about our projects please visit the PCSU Research webpage. A collection of open-source technical reports and gray literature generated under PCSU is available under PCSU Special Reports and Scholar Space.