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Forest inventory and analysis. A national inventory and monitoring

Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
Forest inventory and analysis: a national inventory and monitoring
W. Brad Smith*
USDA Forest Service, 201 14th Street SW, PO Box 96090, Washington, DC 20090-6090, USA
‘‘Capsule’’: The USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program is implementing an integrated approach to
monitor and assess the long-term status and trends in the health of U.S. forests.
Forests provide significant commodity and noncommodity values to the citizens of the United States. An important and substantial role in ensuring the continued health, productivity, and sustainability of these resources is a reliable and credible inventory
and monitoring program. The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the US Forest Service has been monitoring and
reporting on status, condition, and trends in the nation’s forests for over 70 years and the Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program for the last 11 years. Recent legislation included in the 1998 Farm Bill, along with efforts to integrate inventory and monitoring networks to deliver Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forests, are redefining the role and operation of the recently
integrated FIA and FHM programs. This paper provides a brief history and a look at new directions for the enhanced FIA Program. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
Keywords: Forest inventory; Annual inventory; Monitoring; Sustainability; Forest health
1. Introduction
The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) research program has been in continuous existence since mandated by
Congress in 1928. The FIA program is the only organization that collects, compiles, archives, analyzes, and publishes state, regional, and national inventory information
on all ownerships for forest land in the United States.
Several Federal and State agencies in response to the
increasing concern on forest ecosystem health established
the Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Program in 1990.
FHM is designed to develop and implement a cooperative
program to monitor, assess, and report on the long-term
status, changes, and trends in the health of US forests. As
resource issues become more complex and the client base
becomes more diverse, FIA and FHM developed and
integrated an approach to be more responsive to information needs regarding important issues and trends that
will impact the use and management of our forests.
1.1. Historic perspective
Early attempts to estimate the nation’s forest resource
(Egleston, 1886; Kellogg, 1909; Zon, 1910) were remark* Fax: +1-703-605-5131.
E-mail address: [email protected] (W.B. Smith).
0269-7491/01/$ - see front matter Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
PII: S0269-7491(01)00255-X
able in their scope (considering the available tools) but
lacking in statistical rigor (US Senate, 1933). Since 1928,
FIA has had a Congressional mandate under what is now
called the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources
Research Act (PL 95-307) to monitor the nation’s forests
with a simple goal to ‘‘. . .make and keep current a comprehensive survey and analysis of the present and prospective conditions of and requirements for renewable
resources of the forests and rangelands of the United
States’’. And while the FHM program is much younger, a
mere 10 years or so old, it too has a rich history of contributions to our resource knowledge. The passage of the
Forest Ecosystems and Atmospheric Pollution Research
Act of 1988 (PL 100-521) directs us to ‘‘. . .conduct such
surveys as are necessary to monitor long-term trends in the
health and productivity of domestic forest ecosystems’’.
During FIA’s first 50 years, inventory focus was primarily on the timber resource (Powell et al., 1994; VanHooser et al., 1992). However, events of the last 20
years have brought successive reshaping of this interpretation of the original mandate into a more holistic
goal of ecosystem monitoring. The integrated FIA and
FHM detection monitoring programs will be a linchpin
for supplying data for Criteria and Indicators of sustainable forestry for the United States.
Both the FIA and the newer FHM already have a
rich history of delivering some of the best available
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
information on the nation’s forest ecosystems. Some
important facts about these programs bear mentioning
at this point to demonstrate the magnitude of the infrastructure that is already in place within the Forest Service. Since the 1930s, FIA has provided 225 Statewide
forest inventories; seven national assessments (USDA,
1958, 1965, 1973, 1982; Waddell et al., 1989; Faulkner et
al., 1993; Smith et al., 2001); two national biomass
studies (USDA, 1981; Cost et al., 1990); two national
private forest land ownership studies (Birch, 1982,
1996); a national satellite forest cover map of the USA
(Zhu and Evans, 1994); hundreds of primary mill, utilization, and residential fuelwood studies (May, 1998;
Smith, 1991); over 300 reports on nontimber issues
(Rudis, 1991); and online access to FIA data at http:// Since implementing the first FHM detection monitoring plots in the late 1980s, FHM has
established detection monitoring plots in 37 States with
annual measurements currently covering 78% of the
nation’s forest lands; developed several State and regional
Forest Health Assessments; established and supported
continuous research on forest health indicators; and
begun research on linking indicators at intensive or
index sites
Recent events and legislation has changed the look of
FIA. While the basic goal of the program continues to
be to provide the highest quality information on the
extent, condition, and trends of the nation’s forest
resources, the organizational structure and approach to
our inventories has been streamlined to improve efficiency. The Agricultural Research, Extension, and
Education Reform Act of 1998 amendment to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act
of 1978 (PL 95-307) revised the previous mandate to
provide: (1) Annualized state inventories with data collected in each state each year; (2) 5-year reports for each
State and nationally including an analysis of forest
health; and (3) national standards and definitions,
including a core set of variables to be measured on all
sample plots and a standard set of tables to be included
in the 5-year reports.
urbanization, land clearing, and increased pressure on
remaining forest systems to supply necessary goods and
services. The fourth, proliferation of information, concerns the need for accurate, timely resource information
and easy access to data. Consistency and comparability
of resource estimates among geographic regions and
across time (i.e. from one survey to the next) are related
Imbedded in these long-term issues are more urgent
information needs that are shaping a revitalization of
FIA program in the near term.
A Changing Forest Land Base—The capacity of our
forests to supply timber products is declining in
response to growing pressures to supply a broad
spectrum of commodities and nonmarket goods and
services. To keep pace with dynamic land-use change,
the inventory remeasurement cycles should be shortened and appropriate variables should be collected to
adequately characterize other resources values.
Rising Noncommodity Uses—The extent and condition of forest resources, on which these uses depend,
needs to be thoroughly documented. In-depth analyses are needed to estimate outdoor recreation
demand and potential increases in use, wildlife habitat
suitability and extent, watershed conditions, grazing
use, and biological diversity. To get a complete picture
of these resources, all forest land, including wilderness
areas and parks, should be included in forest resource
inventories and featured in reports.
Environmental Health Change—Forest health and
productivity are affected by a large number of interacting factors. Air quality problems and the potential
for anthropogenic climate change have increased the
need for timely information on the health and productivity of the nation’s forests. Addressing these
issues requires efforts from many disciplines to provide new kinds of monitoring data. A key FIA role
will be the establishment of a baseline set of field
locations that can be monitored more intensively to
detect changes in the health and condition of major
forest ecosystems over time.
1.2. Drivers of change in inventory and monitoring
FIA has identified four long-term issues related to
renewable natural resources that will directly affect the
nation’s forests and the FIA program (USDA, 1993).
The first, increasing pollution, includes such themes as
acid precipitation, the effects of global climate change,
deterioration of forest health, and lower forest productivity. The second, dwindling global resources,
encompasses lack of desired regeneration, increased
harvesting pressure, desertification, threats to biological
diversity, dwindling old-growth forests, and forest and
ownership fragmentation. Increasing population is the
third major, long-term issue. It is closely linked to
2. FIA program overview
Understanding the physical, biological, and social
interactions within diverse landscapes will require a
monitoring system that provides consistent, compatible
information across these landscapes regardless of ownership, management status, or political boundaries. The
national inventory and monitoring grid plot network
administered by the Forest Service has the infrastructure in place to gather landscape-scale descriptive
data that are consistent, compatible, and scientifically
reliable across these boundaries.
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
FIA inventories provide a basic suite of vegetative
data across all forested landscapes measured in a consistent and compatible manner on the national grid.
Examination of these data may suggest hypotheses for
the geographic distribution of forested ecosystems,
associated characteristics and habitats for forest-dwelling species, or trends in regional ecological landscape
dynamics and land-use practices. In the process of
establishing an inventory implementation plan for a
given resource area, FIA researchers work with the
principal managers, scientists and public that are interested in monitoring information from that area to
determine if additional data could provide useful indicators of resource condition, health, or change.
A key feature of the FIA national grid inventory is
the systematic distribution of samples that does not
predicate sample location on a pre-stratified boundary
system (i.e. stands, watersheds, ecoregions, etc.). The
systematic grid design allows the user to draw boundaries of interest knowing that a systematic, representative
group of plots will be available for analysis. This establishes national grid data as a useful tool to compare or
validate other sampling techniques by providing an
independent estimate of variables of interest, e.g. using
national grid data in global monitoring models.
While the hallmark of data from the national grid is
statistical quality, this inventory program also offers
opportunities to collect data and information that need
not be statistically rigorous in nature. For example, FIA
units may incorporate sight and sound surveys (rare
flora and fauna, exotics, etc.) as they traverse into and
out of sample locations to assist local managers in collecting ‘incidence’ data to facilitate locating sites for
more intensive studies.
Together, these features make the enhanced FIA program a powerful tool for providing statistically sound
and scientifically reliable data and information for
monitoring the sustainability of the nation’s natural
resources. The following discussion looks at the many
facets of the FIA program that position it well to meet
the challenges of the future.
2.1. Organization
FIA is under the Deputy Chief for research and in the
Science Policy, Planning, Inventory, and Information
Staff. Seven research work units located at Forest
Experiment Station locations in Newtown Square PA,
St. Paul MN, Asheville, NC, Starkville MS, Ogden UT,
Anchorage AK, and Portland OR are responsible for
conducting statewide forest surveys, analyzing and
reporting results, and conducting research on inventory
and monitoring technologies. A separate national
inventory techniques unit, located in Ft Collins CO,
provides research support for development and testing
of inventory and monitoring methods. In response to
the 1998 Farm Bill, FIA submitted a Strategic Plan to
Congress in April 1999 to describe the structure and
operation of the enhanced FIA program.
2.2. Tenants of the strategic plan
1. Responsibilities and Funding for Strategic Inventories. The FIA program would be formally given
the responsibility and the necessary resources to
implement the base FIA program across all forest
lands to assure uniform reporting of results and
trends across regions and landownership categories.
2. Integrate FIA and FHM to create enhanced FIA
program. The field plot portion of the FHM
detection monitoring program would be merged
with the FIA program to create a single program
that gathers a wide array of ecological data in an
efficient fashion.
3. FIA Executive/Management Framework. This
framework recognizes the large number of partnerships critical to successful implementation of
the FIA program, as well as the decentralized
organization structure of the Forest Service. At
each level, the framework includes representatives
of FIA, State Foresters, National Forest System
(NFS) and State and Private Forestry (S&PF).
The framework consists of three levels:
FIA Executive Team. This team consists of senior
executives charged with making policy decisions
for the integrated FIA program. The team derives
it authority to make national policies for strategic
inventories from the Deputy Chief for R&D and
will operate by consensus in creating the policies
needed to facilitate the swift transition to an integrated FIA program.
FIA Management Team. This team consists of
managers responsible for the day-to-day operation
of the FIA program. Team members include FIA
unit program managers; national program managers for FIA, FHM, and NFS; State representatives; and NFS regional representatives. This team
meets regularly to make tactical decisions regarding
implementation of the core FIA program, and to
share information about other ongoing activities.
Technical Bands. These bands consist of technical
staff that make recommendations regarding program operations such as field methods, analysis
algorithms, information management systems.
These groups meet as needed to do staff work in
response to requests from the Management Team.
2.3. The survey
Beginning in 1930, States were surveyed in a continuous cycle that averaged about 10–12 years
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
between inventories nationwide. New legislation passed in 1998 mandates a 5-year cycle in all States
unless altered with the approval of the States. Congress and the States agreed to a 7-year cycle in the
east and 10-year cycle in the west as a base Federal
FIA program. Inventories would be ‘annualized’ by
collecting a proportionate share of each State’s plots
each year (15% of the plots annually in the east and
10% in the west). States have the option to cooperatively ‘buy down’ to the 5-year cycle by providing the
additional funds necessary to leverage the FIA program from its Congressionally funded level down to a
5-year cycle.
2.4. Sampling design and measurements
Data collection is based upon a common sampling
approach—double sampling for stratification. Historically, FIA had two phases—remotely sensed data
interpretation (Phase 1 or P1) and field data collection
through plot visits (Phase 2 or P2). Phase 1 provides
primary information on the extent and distribution of
forest cover. There are over 3 million Phase 1 sample
plots on forest land across the United States (Fig. 1),
roughly one for every 240 acres of forest. A subsample of the Phase 1 plots is selected for Phase 2
field data collection. Field visits confirm data and
interpretations made from the remotely sensed data
and provide additional data not observable from Phase
1—some 300 different variables. There are approximately 125,000 forested Phase 2 sample plots across
the United States, roughly one for every 6000 acres of
forest. Field sampling is conducted on plots consisting
of a cluster of fixed radius subplots (USDA Forest
Service, 2001;
Tree measurements on P2 plots include species, diameter breast height (dbh), and total height, as well as
more detailed measurements of status and vigor.
Fig. 1. USDA Forest Service integrated monitoring framework.
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
Additional data are collected on shrub and herbaceousvegetation to identify structure and ecological
In 1999, FIA and FHM fully integrated the detectionmonitoring plots of FHM into the FIA program. These
plots became Phase 3 (P3) of the enhanced FIA program. On a subsample of P2 sample plots, additional
data are collected to chronicle the health and condition
of the forest ecosystem. There are approximately 8000
forested P3 sample plots in the United States where
detailed health data are collected, roughly one for every
95,000 acres of forest. P3 plots are co-located with P2
plots and approximately every 16th P2 plot is also a P3
plot. Information collected at these locations is much
more detailed than information collected for P2. For
example, plants receive a more detailed taxonomic classification, soil samples are collected for analysis, damage to each tree’s crown is assessed, and ozone damage
indicators are measured.
The common location of P3 and P2 plots has
enhanced the linkages between data collected at P1, P2,
and P3 sample plots.
2.5. Consistency and quality assurance
A nationwide forest survey field manual that specifies
a core set of definitions, accuracy requirements,
measurement standards, and reporting requirements
maintains consistency. There is a continual effort to
maintain consistency between surveys and among FIA
units while implementing innovations in forest inventory methodology and adjusting to changing information requirements.
The hallmark of the FIA program is its focus on
quality assurance. The current national standards provide an accuracy of 3–5% per million acres (approximately 1–2% per million hectares) of forest land and
5–7% per billion cubic feet (approximately 3–4%
per 100 million m2) of growing stock volume at the
67% confidence level.
2.6. Compliance with Privacy Act of 1974
Private landowners are essential partners for the FIA
program. Without a landowner’s permission, the
FIA program cannot collect data on private land. To
protect the privacy of participating private landowners,
the FIA program keeps confidential the exact latitude
and longitude of FIA field sample locations and never
links the identity of participating private landowners to
plot data. These policies are long-standing and consistent with the Privacy Act of 1974. Further, exact plot
coordinates are not included in data bases released outside of the FIA program. New legislation has amended
the 1985 Food Security Act to include new provisions
for confidentiality of FIA information.
2.7. Core variables
The new inventory program includes a nationally
consistent set of core measurements, collected on a
standard ground plot, with data managed, processed,
analyzed, and reported in a uniform fashion. The core
set of measures will address inventory and forest health
monitoring objectives. The set includes ecological variables not previously collected consistently across all
regions. Because a nationally consistent set of core
variables is needed to respond to the legislative mandate
and address customer information needs across scales,
field units will use the national definitions and
measurement protocols established for the core variables on all public and private forest land. Field units
may also add additional measures, conduct special analyses, and prepare reports that respond to specific customer needs.
3. Measuring success and establishing accountability
Measuring and monitoring the success of the FIA
program is critical both to making continuous
improvements as well as maintaining accountability
with our customers and Congress. Program success will
be evaluated continuously and reported via an Annual
Business Summary, similar to a corporate annual
report. It will serve as the annual Government Performance and Results Act report for the FIA program and
will describe:
1. past year activities, products, outputs (success in
2. past year accomplishments, outcomes, and
impacts (success in effectiveness);
3. results of any program peer reviews conducted in
the past year (success in validation);
4. major changes expected in the coming year;
5. a basic financial accounting balance statement
(income, expenses); and
6. a basic statement of staffing resources (people
involved, Forest Service and other).
Annual meetings of national and local users groups,
where the annual business report will be presented and
discussed, augment external accountability.
3.1. Partnerships
Partnerships are key to implementing the Strategic
Plan. Partners help determine program direction; participate in data collection and analysis; facilitate external relationships; and conduct research and
development work in support of the overall inventory
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
3.2. Program direction
Input from partners is critical in making sure that the
FIA program stays responsive to customer needs. Each
Regional FIA program has established at least one open
‘‘user group’’ meeting per year, inviting a cross section of
FIA partners, cooperators, and customers to discuss program status and satisfaction. A national user group meets
at least once per year to aggregate regional concerns
and incorporate them into national recommendations.
Partnerships with the US Global Change Research
Program to improve estimates of forest biomass and
Every State forestry agency is consulted as a routine
part of conducting forest inventory. As we move to a
continuous annual inventory system, these contacts will
occur more frequently as part of the partnerships and
relationships described previously.
3.3. Data collection
4. Special studies
Partners participate in data collection where they
have the capacity and interest to do so, and where
they can meet quality standards at equal or lower costs.
If Federal budgets fall short of requirements, an
increased level of partner donation of in-kind services
may be needed to help the FIA program meet the legislative mandate.
Over the past 50 years, a number of special studies
have been conducted that relied, to some extent, on FIA
data to provide regional context. Many of the past special studies have been sought by customers interested in
multi-State or regional analysis of resource trends. Most
special studies have relied heavily on the expertise of
partners. The following is a brief summary of a few
of these efforts.
3.4. Analysis
4.1. Ownership studies
Partner roles in analysis include helping to determine
the elements, scenarios, and assumptions to be included
in the analysis; providing opinions as to the reasons for
past trends, or probable assumptions for future projections; and serving as peer reviewers for draft products.
3.5. Marketing, technology transfer, and public relations
Partners use their networks to inform their local
communities about ongoing FIA activities, and to make
sure that knowledge of inventory reports and products
reaches a variety of audiences. FIA results may be
transformed by partners into news releases, popular
articles, brochures, Internet web site links, and other
means that best serve audience needs.
3.6. Coordination with other federal and state partners
FIA is engages with other Federal natural resource
agencies including the National Park Service (NPS),
BLM, USGS, and NRCS on a variety of initiatives
such as:
Memorandum of Understanding with NPS for data
collection on NPS lands.
Participation in joint projects with BLM and NRCS
(USDA, 1998) in Oregon, Colorado, and the Delaware Bay area to pursue opportunities to combine
inventory procedures in areas of common interest.
Collaboration with NRCS and BLM on a rangeland
health monitoring initiative.
Investment and partnership in the MRLC remotes
sensing project.
Forest land ownership studies have been completed in
many States throughout the USA, and an update of the
national ownership pattern is underway. Such studies
are designed to complement the data collected on the
inventory plots. Objectives of the ownership studies are
to provide a description of typical private forest land
owners, and to determine their motive for ownership
and attitudes toward forest management.
4.2. Forest products and related studies
Forest products play an important role in the US
economy. Construction, manufacturing, and transportation all require an enormous amount of wood as raw
material. Studies of utilization and timber products
output provide information needed to determine how
much timber is removed annually. Timber removals are
the net volume of products and residues from trees
removed from the inventory by harvesting; cultural
operations, such as timber stand improvement; land
clearing; or changes in land use or classification. The
components of removals can be estimated in several
ways. First, if timber utilization factors are applied to
timber product output statistics (primary mill receipts),
growing stock removals can be determined. Second,
growing-stock removals can be determined by counting
tree stumps on remeasured forest inventory plots. Third,
timber volume on remeasurement plots can be estimated
by simulation methods when the forest land has been
cleared or where land use has been reclassified between
surveys. Finally, statistics that show forest land area
cleared for urban development, right-of-way expansions,
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
and road construction or forest land acreage reserved
for parks, wilderness, and outdoor recreation can be
multiplied by representative per acre plot volumes to
estimate other removal components. Online data
derived from FIA timber product studies is available at
4.3. Non-timber studies and outputs
A compendium of more than 400 citations of literature published between 1979 and 1990 on wildlife habitat, range, recreation, hydrology, and related research
was assembled by Rudis (1991). This report demonstrates the breadth and extent of how the Forest Inventory and Analysis program nationwide has responded to
the challenge issued in the RPA legislation. FIA continues to seek and take advantage of an increasing
number of these opportunities.
. refining change detection models; and
. reducing the need for human intervention in the
image processing algorithms.
Specific FIA objectives include:
. relying on satellite imagery to produce all area
. producing satellite-derived maps of forest attributes
at a high resolution, sufficient for land navigation;
. providing meaningful resource estimates for small
geographic areas (small scales);
. providing maps that are both accurate and visually
effective; and
. linking satellite imagery to FIA data, enabling a
wide variety of spatial analyses.
5. Reporting and information management
4.4. Techniques research
Investments in research and development focus on
building practical, efficient methods to obtain and
report information of interest to customers. FIA is
continually exploring the latest technology and analytical techniques to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and
reporting of our resource information. Techniques
research has always been a part of the regular work
activity at each FIA unit. Four general areas of investigation are: (1) data collection, and measurement techniques, (2) data compilation and analysis techniques, (3)
remote sensing techniques, and (4) information management techniques. Each of these areas is represented
by a Technical Band to help organize and prioritize FIA
research efforts and serve as a conduit for providing
expert applications to solve resource monitoring and
analysis problems.
Forest resource inventory in the United States is
based on statistical sampling methods. Sampling technology is an indispensable part of the process. Consequently, sampling for forest resource inventory relies on
perhaps the largest body of technical estimation procedures among the natural resources disciplines. Future
requirements for integrated renewable resources information call for the expansion of this body of technical
skills into many areas such as trend analysis, projections, remote sensing, and geospatial analysis.
One key technology that FIA is implementing is full
incorporation of satellite imagery to make P1 area estimates. This ongoing project has several general and
specific objectives:
General objectives include:
. distinguishing among forest cover types;
. developing global positioning accuracy sufficient
to rectify and reference imagery;
The basic method of reporting results to the various
user groups is by issuing statistical reports for survey
units and states. The reports contain tabular data, brief
analytical statements, charts, maps, and definitions.
More elaborate analytical reports are prepared for most
states to provide additional interpretation of resource
data and long-term trends. Special analytical studies
may address current topics of regional or national concern. Specific reporting includes:
5.1. Annual report
On completion of the inventory for a year, FIA will
provide for each State a compilation of all data collected for that year from measurements of sample plots
as well as any analysis made of the samples.
5.2. Periodic reports by state
Every 5 years, a complete analytical report will be
produced for each State. To make the most efficient use
of analysts, approximately 10 State reports will be produced annually and will include:
. the current status of the forest based on the last 5
years of data;
. trends in forest status and condition over the preceding 20 years, with emphasis on comparing the
most recent data with data from the previous period;
. timber product output (TPO) information for the
. analysis and discussion of the probable forces
causing the observed conditions; and
. projection of the likely trends in key resource
attributes over the next 20 years, under various
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
5.3. Periodic national report
Starting the 6th year after the program begins, FIA
will prepare a National Summary report which includes
the same elements described above but at the regional
and national scales. The FIA program has historically
prepared such summaries for the Resource Planning Act
(RPA) Assessment. The National Summary will be prepared either as a part of the collection of RPA Assessment reports or, if the RPA Assessment legislative
mandate changes, as a separate FIA program document.
5.4. Other data dissemination
FIA receives hundreds of special information requests
annually, ranging from simple phone calls to elaborate
requests for special data compilation or consultation
with an analyst. Most FIA units can provide raw data,
special retrievals for selected geographical areas, maps,
and other special products. FIA has also developed a
standard national core database containing consistent
data and information across all regions to improve user
access and facilitate large scale analyses.
5.5. Information management
FIA continues to develop and improve a national
information management system that serves both internal data management needs as well as external (public)
data access needs. The information database will consist
of a core set of tables, data validation procedures,
algorithms, analytical and compilation procedures, and
data access tools to ensure that core data are treated
identically across the country. Regionally specific data
will also be made available when possible. The next
generation system will include all the data currently in
the existing systems and will allow comparisons of current trends with past trends.
6. Integration with other agency reporting activities
The Forest Service is responsible for many periodic
reporting products associated with status and trends in
forested ecosystems. The following needs are presently
important. It is expected that other reporting needs will
arise in the future. A key attribute of the proposed
inventory program is that it contains sufficient scope of
data to enable us to respond to new data needs as they
Resource Planning Act (RPA) Assessment. This
Assessment is done on a 5-year cycle, with mandatory
reporting to Congress at 10-year intervals. FIA provides historic and current forest inventory data used
to describe current resource status and provide the
basis for future projections for national analyses.
State of the Nation’s Ecosystems Report. This report
is being developed for the White House Office of
Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) by the John
Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the
Environment to provide indicators of sustainable
forestry. Nearly two-thirds of the data for the forestry section of the report comes from FIA.
International Reporting. The FIA responds to many
international requests for national estimates of status,
condition, and trends, in America’s forests. Within
the last two decades there has been an increasing
awareness of global forestry issues. Forest ecosystem
sustainability is being viewed as an indicator of social
as well as environmental health.
After the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development held in Rio de Janerio in 1992,
the Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the
Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests (‘‘Montreal Process’’) was
formed in Geneva in June 1994 to advance the development of an internationally agreed criteria to monitor
sustainable forests. A set of indicators of sustainable
forests was then set forth in Santiago, Chile in February
1995. This set of seven Criteria and 67 Indicators are
known as the ‘‘Santiago Declaration‘‘ (Canadian Forest
Service, 1995).
The first five Criteria contain 28 biological indicators. FIA is expected to supply critical base data for as
many as 18 of these indicators to monitor and report
on US forest sustainability. The following tabulation
summarizes the 28 biological indicators and FIA
Criteria 1: conservation of biodiversity
Ecosystem diversity
***1. Area of forest by type
***2. Area of forest by type and age
**3. Area of forest by type and IUCN category
**4. Area of forest by type, age, and IUCN
*5. Fragmentation by forest type
Species diversity
**6. Number of forest-dependent species
7. Status of forest-dependent species
Genetic diversity
8. Number of forest-dependent species in
restricted range
9. Population levels of representative species
Criteria 2: maintenance of productive capacity of
forest ecosystems
***10. Area of forest land and timberland
***11. All live and growing stock volume
***12. Area and growing stock in plantations
W.B. Smith / Environmental Pollution 116 (2002) S233–S242
***13. Annual removals for products vs. sustainable volume
*14. Removals of nontimber products vs.
sustainable levels
Criteria 3: maintenance of forest ecosystem health
and vitality
***15. Area and percent forest damaged by
insect, disease, fire, flood, etc.
16. Area and percent forest affected by airborne agents [nitrate, ozone]
17. Area and percent forest with diminished
biological components
Criteria 4: conservation and maintenance of soil and
water resources
**18. Area and percent of forest with significant soil erosion
19. Area and percent of forest managed primarily for protective functions
20. Percent of stream kilometers in forested
**21. Area and percent of forest with significantly diminished soil organic matter
*22. Area and percent of forest with significant soil compaction
23. Percent of water bodies in forested areas
with sig. change in biodiversity
24. Percent of water bodies in forested areas
with sig. change in hydrologic character
25. Area and pct of forest area experiencing
accumulation of toxic substances
Criteria 5: maintenance of forest contribution to
global carbon cycles
**26. Total forest biomass and carbon pool
by type and age
**27. Contribution of forest to total global
carbon budget
**28. Contribution of forest products to
global carbon budget
*** FIA has protocols; **FIA developing protocols;
*FIA can develop protocols.
Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple
socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies
(Criteria 6) and Legal, institutional, and economic
framework for forest conservation and sustainable management (Criteria 7) contain the remaining 39 indicators
for which FIA will have only limited input. Additionally, the Committee on Forestry, FAO has formulated a
comprehensive Forest Resources Assessment (FRA)
program consisting of four components: (1) country
capacity building; (2) assessments of the multiple benefits of forests; (3) assessment based on existing reliable
information; and (4) remote sensing survey. The USA
participated along with 54 other countries in the Temperate and Boreal Forest Resource Assessment (United
Nations, 2000) as a part of this international effort.
While we focus considerable attention on making sure
our data are compatible across scales and ownerships
within the USA, we must not ignore the need to pursue
similar goals at the international level. This process is
somewhat delicate since it requires the integration of
the monitoring goals and policies of sovereign nations
and how they view their resources in the context of the
global environment.
For both the 12 nation Montreal First Approximation Report and the 55 nation TBFRA, national correspondents provided preliminary data in their
national replies and identified major issues that needed
clarification or solutions. Responses are reviewed section by section (table by table) so that concepts, and
interpretation of terms and definitions could be clarified. The process is not intended to produce exact
compliance with definitions (which is very difficult
among so many nations) but to arrive at a result that
has minimum variance. It is a process of refining
responses through successive clarification/refinement or
7. Conclusion
The enhanced FIA program endorses an integrated
framework as a sound strategic approach for forest
inventory and monitoring activities and will continue to
build an inventory and monitoring program that can
integrate across scales. You are invited to review all of
the exciting new things going on in FIA by visiting us
on the web at:
This paper was presented at the USDA Forest Service
Southern Global Change Program sponsored Advances
in Terrestrial Ecosystem: Carbon Inventory, Measurements, and Monitoring Conference held 3–5 October
2000 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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