FEMC has expanded the scope of our work through partnerships with other states in the region. FEMC has successfully partnered with agencies and researchers in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine with the goal of being a catalyst for collaboration, communication and data sharing. The natural world is not restricted by borders or boundaries and neither should the monitoring and research studying these environmental issues. FEMC is continually looking to expand our reach, if you would like to set up a regionalization project in your area please contact us.
FEMC has a number of active regional and state-level projects, listed below.
Regional Assessment of Browse and Its Impacts on Forest Vegetation
Browsing by ungulates is a significant pressure on the resilience of forests in the Northeast with potential implications for the composition and structure as well as interactions with other stressors such as a changing climate. Various efforts are underway to document and track the effects of browse and understand how browse pressure impacts forest regeneration and composition. Building on FEMC's work on the Northeast Forest Regeneration Data Network and extensive collaborative network, FEMC will develop a framework for integrating existing data sources and filling in gaps.
This project is currently underway and will take place in 2021-2022.
Impacts of Recreation on Forest Ecosystems
The use of forested lands for recreation has changed significantly in the Northeast over the past decade. Improved infrastructure and resource allocation have created more opportunities for outdoor recreation and increased accessibility to natural lands, however, the implications of increased recreation for forest health have not been systematically explored from a monitoring lens. The purpose of this project is to identify potential options for monitoring connections between recreation and forest health by assessing aspects of forest health that may interact with recreational use of forests, and what type of monitoring efforts are being conducted that could capture these interactions across the region. This project is exploratory in nature and will build a strong foundation to give structure to additional research or tool development.
Exploring Trends in Tree Mortality as a Response to Disturbance Drivers – Regional Exploration Project
Forest-based recreation activities are increasing with more people taking part in both motorized and non-motorized activities. Different recreation activities place varying levels and types of pressure on forests. These pressures can be concentrated (e.g., mountain bike trails) or diffuse (e.g., cutting for ski glades), with potential impacts on forest hydrology, soils, invasive species propagation, wildlife movement, tree regeneration and health. Monitoring and analysis of forest health impacts by recreational activities in the Northeast is limited, but of growing interest to land managers.
Forest Indicators Dashboard Pilots in New Hampshire and New York
We are working to apply the concept and design of the VT Forest Indicators Dashboard to the states of New York and New Hampshire. We will work with experts in each state to determine which datasets best capture the status, condition, and services of, as well as stresses to, forests. The result will be an easy to use and understand dashboard that provides a snapshot of how our forests are doing now and overtime.
Initial pilots of the dashboards will be completed for state review by winter 2020.
Expanding Forest Health Monitoring
FEMC is expanding the Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program that was established in Vermont in 1991. The program monitors the condition of tree species in dedicated plots each year. Beginning in 2020, new plots were added in Massachusetts. In 2021, the program will further expand to include plots in all seven states of the FEMC region, adding plots in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, and Rhode Island. The new plots are distributed across each state and representative of statewide forest composition. The plots also overlap with existing tree monitoring networks to provide enhanced temporal resolution of state-conducted forest health programs.
FEMC field crews will evaluate these regional plots to measure tree demography, including saplings and seedlings, record browse, invasive species and damages, and assess crown health, among other metrics. Plots will be assessed on an annual basis to monitor for early warning signs of forest stress and changes in demography.
We thank all of our state partners from CT, MA, NH, NY, RI and the U.S. Forest Service for their participation in the preliminary conversations to develop a viable regional plot network.
Visit the project page at https://www.uvm.edu/femc/cooperative/projects/forest_health_monitoring to learn more about the expanded Forest Health Monitoring program.