Established in 1990 as a partnership among the USDA Forest Service, the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and The University of Vermont (UVM), the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative (VMC) facilitates collaboration among federal, state, non-profit, professional and academic institutions for long-term monitoring of forested ecosystems across the region and an improved understanding of forest ecosystems in light of the many threats they face.

Forest ecosystems are complex entities supporting many organisms and providing a wealth of ecosystem services. Because a healthy forest system is also dynamic in response to natural climate variability, disturbances and succession, long-term monitoring is necessary in order to distinguish normal year to year variability from emergent forest health issues or subtle changes indicative of chronic stress.

Driven by its mission to aggregate the information necessary to monitor forest health, detect chronic or emergent forest health issues and assess their impacts on forested ecosystems, the VMC network has completed nearly 200 individual research and monitoring projects conducted by over 215 collaborators over its 26-year history. These projects, conducted across the state of Vermont and the larger northern temperate forest region, investigate a range of forest, soil, water, wildlife, pollutant and climate relationships. While the VMC data archive includes many individual investigations relevant to understanding and sustaining healthy forest ecosystems, this Long-Term Monitoring Update offers a sampling of key long-term data sets that represents the basic structure, condition and function of the forested ecosystem. Our goal is to include both a summary of the latest year’s data on key forest, wildlife, water, and air quality metrics, along with an analysis of the long-term patterns and trends in the data in order to provide a relevant and timely source of information on the current state of the region’s forested ecosystems. This allows us to quantify metrics collected in 2015 in the context of long-term monitoring datasets.

The information in this Long-Term Monitoring Update is intended to be a snapshot of the larger body of monitoring and research that has been amassed over time, and which is growing daily. As an organization, VMC believes that the regular analysis and reporting of such information is critical to identify emerging forest health issues, as well as understand the drivers and impacts of ecosystem change.