About the Continuous Forest Program Inventory Comparison Tool

The Continuous Forest Inventory Program Comparison Tool is the culmination of more than a year of work by the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative (FEMC) staff key program partners.
Find more information about continuous forest inventory and this tool below, and check out our technical report and program assessment framework to learn more about how the content shown here was developed.

Continuous forest inventory (CFI) programs and related efforts have been developed, primarily by state agencies, to monitor forest growth and development over time. In the Northeast, these programs have been developed primarily by state agencies, but also employed by colleges and universities and non-profit groups to monitor forest condition. The data collected by these programs can be used for growth and yield modeling, harvest planning, and assessment of change. In some cases, data have been collected on permanent plots going back decades.

The CFI Program Comparison Tool provides users with access to a detailed methodological analysis of a preliminary set of forest inventory programs from across the Northeast. The tool provides the following features:
Find out more about the details behind these assessments in our technical report: “Comparing Continuous Forest Inventory Program Methodologies Across the Northeast”.

You can compare CFI programs by their suitability for a set of analyses or assessments in the Compare Programs tab. Click one of the four categories (Overstory, Regeneration, Carbon, or Forest Health) to see more information on how programs can be compared. In the table below, colored circles indicate the level of suitability for a given analysis or assessment for each program:

  • Suitable – The data collected by this program will allow for full and detailed analysis when comparing to other programs

  • Partially Suitable - Some of the data needed for a full analysis are available. However, assumptions or projections may be required to assess a given variable. For example, if the program does not measure total tree height, predicted tree heights would need to be estimated based on species and DBH to quantify volume and biomass.

  • Not Suitable – The data needed for this analysis or assessment are not sufficiently captured by this program.

You can click the circle to learn more about the methods contributing to that analysis, click the table column names to learn more about the particular topic, and click the name of the inventories to access detailed methodological information. More information on how suitability was assessed is given in our technical report.

You can access the detailed methodological assessment for each program on the Program Details tab. Select a program on the left to see basic plot information collected as well as the list of measurements captured in each category. You can expand each category to view the full list of measurements in that category. Its presence is noted, as well as any details or commentary on each measurement and what analyses or assessments that method informs in the suitability analysis.

These programs are similar in scope but differ methodologically, and comparing data collected across these programs can be time-consuming and, depending on the questions being asked, may not be appropriate based on the methodology . By comparing the methodologies used in each program, we can make it easier for researchers and analysts to understand the differences before using these data for a given purpose. In addition, the information on each program can be used as a resource by other programs seeking tore fine or adjust their methods, or new CFI efforts seeking ways to collect data that will be comparable to other programs in the region.

For each program, we assessed its “Methods”, or how it collected a range of measurements, such as tree diameter, height, basal area, or forest pest damage. In addition to noting its presence or absence, we also commented on the specifics of how that measurement was defined and collected.

We then used this information on each program’s Methods to determine its “Analysis Suitability”, or whether it could be used in a given comparative analysis or assessment. These include assessments of a number of aspects in the following categories of processes or characteristics:

  • Change in Composition Over Time
  • Regeneration Dynamics
  • Biomass and Carbon
  • Forest Health

To learn more about these assessments and details on each program check out our technical report, or take a look at the program assessment framework

FEMC will continue to expand the analysis of the CFI programs. Through funding provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the FEMC is working with researchers from the University of Maine and University of Vermont and collaborators across the FEMC region to expand the number of programs represented as well as build a data-sharing infrastructure that makes it easier to access and compare data from forest inventory programs. This work is underway now through 2021. Sign up for the FEMC mailing list if you want to stay informed of our progress, and contact us if you want to learn more about this continuing effort.

The Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative (FEMC) would like to thank our many partners who provided information on individual programs and made datasets and methodology available, allowing us to develop a framework for assessing these programs. Due to this collaboration, we have been able to assess the potential utility of these programs in local and regional forest assessment and analysis. These partners include:

  • Bruce Allen, New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Don Cameron, Maine Natural Areas Program
  • Andy Cutko, Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
  • Molly Docherty, Maine Natural Areas Program
  • Gennaro Falco, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • Deborah Layton, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • Emily Meacham, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
  • Murray McHugh, Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
  • Robert Messenger, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Kathryn Miller, US National Park Service
  • Stephanie Schmid, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Nancy Sferra, Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
  • Inge Seaboyer, New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Eben Sypitkowski, Baxter State Park
  • William Van Doren, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Aaron Weed, US National Park Service

We would also like to thank those who provided critical feedback on our methods and recommendations, including Anthony D’Amato from the University of Vermont and Aaron Weiskittel from the University of Maine. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of FEMC’s committees in developing this report and the long-term funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service State & Private Forestry, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the University of Vermont that made this report possible.