Browse by Subject
Contact Information

Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs / Sustaining Forests / Forest Resource Monitoring and Assessment
Sustaining Forests

Forest Resource Monitoring and Assessment

How are the nation’s forests doing? The answer to that question is more important than ever as demand for wood and other forest products grows and land use patterns and public expectations change. Northern Research Station researchers are developing tools to provide more reliable and more consistent answers to questions about forest conditions and the effects of management practices, pests, and changing climate. We are developing techniques to monitor forest ecosystems more closely using scientifically credible methods. We are tracking forest conditions in the Northeast and Midwest through the nationally consistent Forest Inventory and Analysis program. These tools will help federal, state, tribal, and private land managers collect and analyze data that assists their efforts to ensure the sustainability of forests.

Research Studies

[image:] A variety of different wood products and wooden parts being manufactured in the United States, which may be used domestically or shipped to foreign markets.Market Analysis in Support of the Wood Products Industry
We conduct research to address questions from our clients on issues related to current economic conditions. Typical issues addressed include: macroeconomic trends including interest rates, GDP, inflation, consumer confidence, and employment; demographics; housing statistics including starts, inventory, home sales, and home prices. We also assess the competitive positions of U.S. wood products companies and discern strategies that can help firms remain profitable.


[image:] The market value of wood species has a large influence on which species are harvested, how forest stands are managed, and thus, the composition and health of future forests.Market Assessments and What They Mean for Forests
The vital importance of the hardwood products industry to the Appalachian region shapes much of our research program. We evaluate local, national, and international hardwood markets and the impact of timber removals on residual forests. This research assesses how markets affect the sustainability of forests and aims to promote sustainable forest management and the economic viability of forest-based communities.


[image:] Forest Stewardship logoRelationships between Different Forms of Private Forest Landowner Assistance and Land Management Behaviors and Intentions
We examined how family forest owners who receive various types of technical assistance differ from unassisted landowners with respect to their forestland management practices, attitudes and concerns, and future management, use, and ownership intentions.


[image:] Technician installing monitoring equipment on weatehr tower.Smart Forests
In experimental forests and ranges throughout the United States, the USDA Forest Service is investing in digital sensors and telecommunications capacity to create an integrated monitoring and research program for the nation’s air, water, and forest resources, whether in rural or densely-populated areas.


[image:] Forest stand with floor covered in dry leaves and down trees and branches.Linking Wood Stake Decomposition in the Forest Floor and Mineral Soil with Soil Productivity in the Northern Research Station
Soil organic matter is key to maintaining site productivity because of its roles in soil water availability, nutrient supply, soil aggregation, and disease incidence or prevention. Organic matter decomposition is controlled by the same soil factors that affect plant growth - water, nutrients, temperature, and pH. Forest management practices and other land management activities can greatly affects organic matter decomposition, which could affect tree growth and site productivity.


[image:] Map of Ohio showing county boundaries. A statewide IMI indicates dry sites (brown) and sites with increasing moisture (yellow to green).Assessment of Forest Site Quality in Ohio
Site quality indices have the potential to provide valuable ecological and agricultural information across the landscape. When Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data is used in conjunction with landscape layers, including an Integrated Moisture Index (IMI), it can provide indications of potential production, carbon sequestration potential, and tradeoffs for various management options.


PhotoNorthern Forest Monitoring
The NRS Northern Forest Monitoring Program develops leading edge forest ecosystem monitoring methods and tools to help FIA and other organizations monitor forests, resulting in compatible results across the landscape.


PhotoForest Inventory & Analysis
Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) collects, analyzes, and reports information on the status and trends of America's forests: how much forest exists, where it exists, who owns it, and how it is changing.


[photo:] Delaware River basinThe Delaware River Basin: Collaborative Environmental Research and Monitoring
In 1998 the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service formed the Collaborative Environmental Monitoring and Research Initiative (CEMRI) to test strategies for integrated environmental monitoring among the agencies.  The initiative combined monitoring and research efforts of the participating Federal programs to evaluate health and sustainability of forest and freshwater aquatic systems in the Delaware River Basin. 


PhotoChequamegon Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (CHEAS)
As part of the cooperative Chequamegon Ecosystem Atmosphere Study (ChEAS), NRS scientists have been studying the energy, water vapor and CO2 exchange between forest ecosystems and the atmosphere to understand the dynamics of forest productivity.


[photo:] Cyptotrama chrysopeplum, a wood-inhabiting fungus.  Photo by Daniel Lindner. Collections at the Center for Forest Mycology Research
Forest fungi are critically important for forest health and productivity. Of the estimated 1.5 million species of fungi worldwide, only about 5% have been described and named. Key characteristics used to identify species and the relationships among species are in a critical period of change. 


[image:] Graph indicating Forest Carbon BudgetForest Carbon Models and Budgets
There is increasing interest in accurate estimates of national, regional, state, and local carbon fluxes, and identification of the causes of land / atmosphere / ocean exchange of carbon.  Because forests store large quantities of carbon and these stocks are affected by many factors, accurate monitoring of forest carbon stocks and fluxes is a critical component of strategies to manage greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration. 


Last Modified: 06/13/2018