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Forest Inventory and Analysis

Science Spotlights

A map of the United States showing forest loss event types - green (most of the northeast and west) shows stable forest, purple (most of the southeast) shows removal, and other colors indicate fire, stress, conversion, wind, and other.
A collaborative project between USFS FIA, NASA, and several universities has developed a new, national map attributing the cause and timing of forest canopy cover losses occurring between 1986 and 2010 across the conterminous United States. The models separated areas of stable forest from areas experiencing persisting forest cover loss (e.g. conversion of forest to other land uses), temporary forest cover loss due to abrupt changes (fire,...
An aerial view of a forest. FIA data have helped several National Forest planning teams to characterize land areas in terms of snags.
Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data are long-term, comprehensive forest data sets potentially of great use for Forest Plan revisions, but it can be challenging to figure out how to best take advantage of this resource. A recently published article by RMRS researchers, Supporting National Forest System Planning with Forest Inventory and Analysis Data, provides examples that can help forest managers understand potential applications of FIA...
A closeup of a gloved hand in a stream holding a funnel attached to a hose.
Environmental DNA methods are highly sensitive and accurate, making them ideal for detecting animals at low densities. However, this tool also come with its own unique set of challenges when applied to efforts to eradicate invasive species. This research explores the use of eDNA for evaluating invasive species eradication efforts in streams and offers best practices for incorporating eDNA methods into invasive species removal projects.
An FIA researcher in PPE sits in a forest recording data.
All plot data in the Forest Inventory and Analysis database (FIADB) are being made available to users of the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS). The improved availability of data in this format will facilitate forest analysis and planning, using the FVS capability to simulate a wide variety of forest treatments and disturbances.  
Map showing distribution of aboveground forest biomass in the Pacific and Inland Northwest
The 2012 Forest Service Planning rule requires that National Forests incorporate into their forest management plans mitigation and adaptation strategies in response to climate change. The Carbon Monitoring System provides annual biomass maps spanning 2000-2016 that will be useful for developing carbon budgets for National Forests and identifying areas needing fuel treatments to reduce wildfire risk. The underlying foundation of this work is...
Cover of FAO report Trees, forests, and land use in drylands: the first global assessment - full report
Drylands cover 41 percent of the earth’s surface and are home to nearly 2 billion people. Despite lacking water, they are vital, productive landscapes providing food, fiber, and habitat that people and animals depend on to survive. RMRS scientists contributed expertise on North American drylands to the groundbreaking Food and Agriculture Organization publication Trees, forests and land use in drylands: the first global assessment. This first-of-...
A photo of snow melt turning into a stream within a densely forested mountain landscape
In coniferous western forests, recent widespread tree mortality provided opportunities to test the long-held theory that forest cover loss increases water yield. Collective results indicate that post-disturbance streamflow and snowpack may increase, stay the same, or even decrease. This post-disturbance hydrologic response depends on vegetation structure, climate, and topography.  New hypotheses continue to be formulated and tested in this...
Ponderosa pine regeneration is sensitive to moisture availability and have limited seed dispersal. Ponderosa forest recovery can be delayed following disturbance. Drier and hotter conditions may reduce ponderosa regeneration (Photo by R. Addington, TNC).
Understanding the structure of understory vegetation in forests is critical for estimating carbon stocks, fuel loading, and assessing wildlife habit. Using nationally collected inventory data shows promise in providing better estimates and assessments in these areas over large geographical regions.
Fire Danger Rating System
The National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is a system that allows fire managers to estimate today's or tomorrow's fire danger for a given area. In 2014, RMRS fire danger rating system developers sought and gained approval to update the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS).
Photo of a forest fire
The number and size of large wildfires have increased dramatically in the western United States during the past three decades. Prior understanding was that the increase in fires was mainly attributable to warming temperatures and earlier snowmelt. In this study, a research team contrasted the three main hypothesized climatic drivers of recent increases in western US wildfire activity: decreased snowpack, increased temperature, and decreased...

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