Structure Condition Services Stressors
Mean forest patch size is a measure of the average size of forest blocks throughout Vermont. When large forest blocks are subdivided during development, the average forest patch size decreases. As we fragment or divide large areas of forest, we reduce the ecological value they provide. Smaller forest patches limit the flow of seeds, animals, and nutrients1 and can make forests more vulnerable to damage or infestation by non-native pests or plants. Both the ecosystem services (such as recreational opportunities, moderation of fluctuating temperatures, and water filtration) and timber-based economic viability of these smaller patches are reduced. Here, we use landcover classification data from satellite imagery to assess the average size of forest patches in Vermont using FragStats software2. A high score means that mean forest patch size is not changing from year to year.
The score is calculated using a target value and the historical range of the the entire long-term dataset. The higher the score, the closer this year's value is to the target.
Once the score is computed for each year, the trend in scores over time is calculated. If the trend is significantly positive or negative, the long-term trend is marked as increasing or decreasing respectively.
Distance between minimum and target (scaled between 1 and 5)
|Directionality of scores||
No change from the long-term mean is better
|Minimum value used in scoring||
Data minimum - 10% of the range
|Maximum value used in scoring||
Data maximum + 10% of the range
Using the National Land Cover Database (NLCD)1, we mapped forest cover (41 Deciduous Forest, 42 Evergreen Forest, 43 Mixed Forest, and 90 Woody Wetlands) at 30 meter resolution. The NLCD begins in 2001 from the reprocessed release in 2019. We used FragStats2 to compute the mean size of forest patches. We used the 8 cell neighborhood rule with a ‘no sampling’ strategy. We selected all Area-Edge Class metrics for computation. We set the target for this dataset to be the long-term mean. The current year is scored for where it falls between target and either the lower scoring bounds (dataset minimum minus 10% of the range) or the upper scoring bounds (dataset maximum plus 10% of the range) and the target when values are above the target, scaled to be between 1 and 5.
Forest cover is the percent of the state of Vermont with tree cover.
Regeneration of sugar maple seedlings provides information about the future of Vermont's hardwood forests.
Regeneration of red spruce seedlings provides information about the future of Vermont's softwood forests.
Forests with greater stand complexity have trees in a range of sizes and as a result, may be more productive and resilient to stress.
Forest patch sizes provides information on the average size of contiguous forest blocks.
Forest connectivity is a measure of the linkages among Vermont's forests.
With greater diversity in tree species, forests can support more biodiversity, exhibit higher resilience to stress, and store more carbon.
Across the landscape, having a range of forest stand ages provides diversity, varied habitat conditions, and resilience to stressors.