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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
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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:] 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.


[photo:] Wooden chair components being produced by a U.S. manufacturerAssessing the Impacts of Globalization on the Appalachian Wood Products Industry
Globalization of wood products manufacturing is having dramatic effects on the domestic wood products industry.  The U.S. furniture industry in particular is facing increasing competition from low-cost regions like China, Viet Nam, and South America.  Today, over 60% of the wood household furniture sold in the United States is imported; 20 years ago, less than 5% was imported. 


[photo:] House under construction.Market Analysis in Support of the Appalachian Wood Products Industry
Like most industries, wood products companies face many challenges arising from changes in the broader economic environment. For example, the U.S. currently is facing the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. The health of housing markets has consequences for the wood products industry, an integral part of the regional economy of the central Appalachians.


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: 05/13/2015