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Specifying geospatial data product characteristics for forest and fuel management applications


Arjan J. H. Meddens
Francisco Mauro
Paige M. Byassee



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station

Historical Station(s):

Pacific Northwest Research Station


Environmental Research Letters. 17: 045025.


One of the greatest challenges for land managers is to maintain a multitude of ecosystem services while reducing hazards posed by wildfires, insect outbreaks, and other disturbances accelerating due to climate change. In response to limited available resources and improved technical abilities, natural resource managers are increasingly using geospatial data to plan and evaluate their management actions. Large amounts of public resources are invested in research and development to improve geospatial datasets, yet there is limited knowledge about the specific data types and data characteristics that clients (e.g. land managers) prefer. Our overall objective was to investigate what geospatial data characteristics are preferred by natural resource professionals to monitor and manage forests and fuels across large landscapes. We performed an online survey and collected supplemental data at a subsequent workshop during the 2020 Operational Lidar Inventory meeting to investigate preferred data use and data characteristics of data users of the Pacific Northwest. Our online survey was completed by 69 respondents represented by managers and natural resource professionals from tribal/state, federal, academic, and industry/consulting entities. We found that metrics related to species composition, total biomass/timber volume, and vegetation height were the most preferred attributes, yet preference differed slightly by employment type. From the workshop we found that metric preferences depend upon which management priorities are central to the management application. There was preference for data with Landsat pixel-level (30 m) spatial resolution, annual temporal resolution, and at regional spatial extents. To maintain viable ecosystem services in the long term, it is important to understand the metrics and their data characteristics that are most useful. We conclude that our study is a useful way to understand (a) how to improve the data utility for the users (clients) and (b) the development and investment needs for the data developers and funders.


Meddens, Arjan J. H.; Steen-Adams, Michelle M.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Mauro, Francisco; Byassee, Paige M.; Strunk, Jacob. 2022. Specifying geospatial data product characteristics for forest and fuel management applications. Environmental Research Letters. 17: 045025.


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