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    Author(s): Lisa Ciecko; David Kimmett; Jesse Saunders; Rachael Katz; Kathleen L. Wolf; Oliver Bazinet; Jeffrey Richardson; Weston Brinkley; Dale J. Blahna
    Date: 2016
    Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-941. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 51 p.
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (10.0 MB)


    The Forest Landscape Assessment Tool (FLAT) is a set of procedures and tools used to rapidly determine forest ecological conditions and potential threats. FLAT enables planners and managers to understand baseline conditions, determine and prioritize restoration needs across a landscape system, and conduct ongoing monitoring to achieve land management goals. The rapid assessment process presents a cost-effective opportunity for landowners that include local governments, private owners, and nongovernmental organizations to use ecological data to guide decisionmaking and improve environmental outcomes on their lands. This report is an introduction to FLAT, providing an overview of its purpose, methods, and implications for land management in diverse regions. FLAT is executed in three sequential phases: Phase 1—Forest Cover Type Mapping, Phase 2—Field Assessment, and Phase 3—Management Prioritization. Overall, FLAT consists of onsite visual estimation (aided by remote sensing) of ecological conditions by a trained field team to produce a forest inventory. In addition to providing baseline data and a framework to prioritize actions, FLAT can be used as a monitoring tool to evaluate changing conditions and inform adjustments in management strategies and priorities. To illustrate FLAT implementation, the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks case study details a pilot project conducted on 24,700 of the more than 26,000 ac of county lands. King County is using the results from FLAT to develop and implement forest stewardship plans and target efforts of its volunteer restoration program. Although the tool was initially used in lowland forests in the Puget Sound region, in concept, FLAT could be expanded and adapted for use in a wide variety of ecosystem types.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Ciecko, Lisa; Kimmett, David; Saunders, Jesse; Katz, Rachael; Wolf, Kathleen L.; Bazinet, Oliver; Richardson, Jeffrey; Brinkley, Weston; Blahna, Dale J. 2016. Forest Landscape Assessment Tool (FLAT): rapid assessment for land management. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-941. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 51 p.


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    Forest, assessment, stewardship, planning, ecology, baseline, monitoring, land management.

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