Forest ThreatNet

Volume 9, Issue 1 - January/February 2016

Western Threat Center Highlights

Rapid Assessment of Forest Insect, Disease, and Drought Disturbances

A vegetation map from the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest A new application using satellite-based disturbance mapping techniques can help users conduct rapid assessments of the source and extent of insect, disease, and drought disturbances on national forests. Researchers from the Western Threat Center have developed a method to isolate these disturbances by filtering out land areas disturbed by management, weather events, and wildfire. When the disturbance maps are combined with National Forest vegetation data, users can estimate the stand type affected; information about species affected, along with expert knowledge, can highlight the nature of the disturbance. Once the satellite-based disturbance data are obtained for a study area or national forest, users can perform the assessment in less than a week. Although this rapid assessment is based on coarse-scale disturbance maps, the method provides a powerful tool for forest planners and A rapid disturbance assessment map showing stand types and size affected by a budworm outbreaksilviculturists who must plan for survey teams, including numbers and locations of common stand exams, and the resulting disturbance dataset provides a useful perspective on the progression of forest health changes over several years. Contact remote sensing analyst Charlie Schrader ( for more information, and visit

Right: A vegetation map from the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest shows total acres per stand type (above); a satellite-based disturbance map combined with a vegetation map reveals the stand types and size affected by a budworm outbreak (below).


« Previous page Next page » Return to contents

Document Actions
Personal tools