Status and future of the forest health indicators program of the USA
For two decades, the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, has been charged with implementing a nationwide field-based forest health monitoring effort. Given its extensive nature, the monitoring program has been gradually implemented across forest health indicators and inventoried states. Currently, the Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis program has initiated forest health inventories in all states, and most forest health indicators are being documented in terms of sampling protocols, data management structures, and estimation procedures. Field data from most sample years and indicators are available on-line with numerous analytical examples published both internally and externally. This investment in national forest health monitoring has begun to yield dividends by allowing evaluation of state/regional forest health issues (e.g., pollution and invasive pests) and contributing substantially to national/international reporting efforts (e.g., National Report on Sustainability and US EPA Annual Greenhouse Gas Estimates). With the emerging threat of climate change, full national implementation and remeasurement of a forest health inventory should allow for more robust assessment of forest communities that are undergoing unprecedented changes, aiding future land management and policy decisions.