Forest Health Monitoring

Forest Health Monitoring
(FHM) is a national program designed to determine the status, changes, and long-term trends in forest condition on all forested lands in the U.S. FHM is a partnership including the U.S. Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters, other State and Federal agencies, and universities. Forest Service programs that cooperate in FHM activities include Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA), which maintains a network of permanent ground plots on which forest health variables are measured, and Forest Health Protection (FHP), which conducts annual aerial and ground surveys of damage from forest insects and diseases.

FHM conducts extensive, coarse-scale monitoring, also known as detection monitoring, to detect potential forest health problems. The program also supports evaluation monitoring projects covering smaller regions to examine and evaluate changes in forest condition that may have been detected through monitoring, and intensive site monitoring research projects that will lead to a better understanding of how forest ecosystems function. Using data from ground plots and surveys, aerial surveys, and other data sources, FHM develops analytical approaches to address and interpret forest health issues that potentially affect the sustainability of U.S. forest ecosystems. Reports on forest health at national, regional, and State levels are regularly produced and provide assessments of important forest health issues for scientists, policy-makers, land managers, and the public. The reports are available on the FHM web site ( or by contacting one of the FHM Program Managers listed on the back of this brochure.

FHM has recently published four national reports on the health of U.S. forests (Conkling and others 2005, Coulston and others 2005a, Coulston and others 2005b, Coulston and others 2005c). In these reports FHM examined a broad range of indicators of forest health using data from a variety of sources. Some indicator analyses used data from the FIA program such as tree mortality, crown condition, ozone bioindicator plant damage, lichen species diversity, various soils characteristics, understory vegetation characteristics, and characterization of down woody material. Other indicator analyses, such as forest insect and disease occurrence, forest fragmentation, climate, air pollution, and forest fires, used data from other Forest Service and non-Forest Service databases.

This brochure presents some examples from the first four FHM national technical reports as an introduction to the kinds of information available in the national technical reports. The example indicators that follow are drought and air pollution, which are stressors that affect forest health; landscape structure and forest fragmentation; and tree mortality. Indicators of forest health were generally analyzed by broad ecological regions, regions characterized by similar climate, vegetation, geology, and soils. A sample of analyses and results from these four reports follows.

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