The Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative (FEMC, formerly the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative), established in 1990, is 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 systems, not only supporting many organisms but also providing a wealth of ecosystem services. Since a healthy forest system is inherently dynamic in response to natural climate variability, succession, and disturbances, the only way to distinguish normal year-to-year variability from emergent forest health issues or subtle changes indicative of chronic stress is through long-term monitoring.
In its 29-year history, the FEMC network has completed nearly 250 individual research and monitoring projects. These projects were conducted by more than 215 collaborators, driven by a mission to aggregate necessary information to monitor forest health, detect chronic or emergent forest health issues, and assess their impacts on forested ecosystems. The numerous 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. The goal of this update is to provide both a summary of the latest year’s (2018) data on key forest, wildlife, water, and air quality metrics, as well as an analysis of the long-term patterns and trends in the data, providing a relevant and timely source of information on the current state of the region’s forested ecosystems.
The information provided in our 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 continues to grow daily. As an organization, the FEMC believes that the regular analysis and reporting of such information is critical to not only identifying emerging forest health issues, but also understanding 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 Vermont, with a separate report detailing trends in regional datasets. Both reports can be found online at (https://www.uvm.edu/femc/products/long_term_update/2018)