Your forest is a study in contrasts. Peering through the overt beauty one finds a story that only reveals itself through studied observation. Understanding this mystery leads to a more intimate participation with the forest, and allows you as a forest manager to make better decisions about your desired future conditions.
Monitoring is a critical component of good forest stewardship and is a means to evaluate the ecosystem services that a forest produces. Monitoring the diversity of your forest can…
- Enhance your understanding of how your forest works
- Improve forest management for commercial species
- Satisfy third-party certification programs such as the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and emerging ecosystem services markets
- Comply with applicable federal, state, or county laws
Forest resources can be monitored using various techniques, ranging from simple assessments to more complex statistical sampling of ecosystem attributes. Which attributes you measure, as well as the frequency of your monitoring, depends on the kind of forest you have and your management objectives.
For those of you managing to the standards of the FSC, a monitoring program is required and is one of the ten principles of the FSC certification standards. Principle 8, Monitoring and Assessment in the FSC-US Forest Management Standard (v1.0) states that:
“The frequency and intensity of monitoring should be determined by the scale and intensity of forest management operations as well as the relative complexity and fragility of the affected environment. Monitoring procedures should be consistent and replicable over time to allow comparison of results and assessment of change.”
In practice, this can be interpreted as the following:
If your forest is over 100 acres and/or you manage intensively (e.g., conduct major commercial harvests every 20 years or less), you are considered a large landowner. Large landowners should have more rigorous and frequent monitoring protocols.
If your forest is less than 100 acres and/or you manage less intensively, you are considered a small landowner. Small landowners may choose to develop a less intensive monitoring system.
These pages are designed to help you, a forest landowner, get a better sense for What should be monitored on your forest, When to monitor, and How to monitor. Check out these pages and see for yourself – and let us know if you have any questions!