FEMC Long-Term Monitoring Update - 2017


Permanent plots allow repeated measures of the condition for forest health across the state.
Permanent plots allow repeated measures of the condition for forest health across the state.

The Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative (FEMC, formerly the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative) was established in 1990 as a partnership among the USDA Forest Service, the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (VT ANR) and The University of Vermont (UVM). The mission of the FEMC is to facilitate 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 FEMC network has completed nearly 250 individual research and monitoring projects conducted by more than 215 collaborators in its 28-year history. These projects, conducted across the state of Vermont and the larger northern temperate forest region have investigated a range of forest, soil, water, wildlife, pollutant, and climate relationships. While the FEMC 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 datasets that characterize 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, and an analysis of the long-term patterns and trends in the data. These updates thus provide a relevant and timely source of information on the current state of the region’s forested ecosystems.

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 is growing daily. As an organization, the FEMC 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. Because of the FEMC’s history of operations in Vermont, this update is focused on datasets related to that state, with a separate report detailing trends in regional datasets.