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Chapter 6: National Update of Forest Fragmentation Indicators, 2001–2011

Informally Refereed
Authors: Kurt Riitters
Year: 2019
Type: General Technical Report
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: In: Potter, Kevin M.; Conkling, Barbara L., eds. 2016. Forest health monitoring: national status, trends, and analysis 2015. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-213. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 226 p.


This chapter summarizes temporal trends in forest fragmentation for the conterminous United States from 2001 to 2011. As distinguished from forest loss per se, forest fragmentation refers broadly to the subdivision of the remaining forest into smaller parcels, the creation of more forest edge per unit of forest area, and the increased distance between the remaining forest parcels. The processes of forest disturbance and recovery, both natural and anthropogenic, together determine the trends of forest fragmentation geographically and over time. The impacts of forest fragmentation on ecological goods and services naturally vary according to the particular circumstances of forest change, such as the natural forest condition in a given area, the particular drivers and patterns of forest change, and the specific ecological process or attribute of interest. The goal of national monitoring of forest fragmentation is to provide a consistent characterization of the status and trends of forest spatial patterns in a way that can potentially address a large number of specific concerns about a variety of ecological goods and services. For these and other reasons, the primary indicator for national monitoring is multiscale forest area density, and the primary data source is the National Land Cover Database (NLCD). The 2010 Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) national report (Potter and Conkling 2013) included a national analysis of forest fragmentation (Riitters 2013) based on the 2001 NLCD. This chapter updates the status and trends of forest fragmentation using the 2006 and 2011 NLCD

Parent Publication


Riitters, Kurt H. 2016. Chapter 6: National Update of Forest Fragmentation Indicators, 2001 2011. General Technical Report SRS 213. USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 10 p.