Temporal trends of forest interior conditions in the United StatesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Nature's benefits derived from forest interior environments cannot be sustained if the natural capital of forest interior area is not sustained. We analyzed the spatial patterns of forest loss and gain for the conterminous United States from 2001 to 2006 to determine whether forest interior environments were maintained at five spatial scales. A 1.1 percent net loss of total forest area translated to net losses of 3.2 percent to 10.5 percent of forest interior area over spatial scales of 4.41 ha to 5,310 ha. At the 65.6-ha scale, the reduction of forest interior area was 50,000 km2--almost double the net loss of total forest area. The geographically pervasive discrepancy between total forest loss and forest interior loss indicates a widespread shift of the extant forest to more fragmented conditions, even in regions exhibiting small net changes in extant forest area. Forest dynamics could be monitored spatially to better understand the potential impacts of fragmentation on the sustainability of forest interior.