Monitoring forest/non-forest land use conversion rates with annual inventory data
The transitioning of land from forest to other uses is of increasing interest as urban areas expand and the world’s population continues to grow. Also of interest, but less recognized, is the transitioning of land from other uses into forest. In this paper, we show how rates of conversion from forest to non-forest and non-forest to forest can be estimated in the US from a continuously improving publicly available annual forest inventory database, under varying definitions of conversion. Two estimation approaches are considered and contrasted. The approaches are a simple ratio estimator and the weighted maximum likelihood estimator. The latter involves a statistical procedure that incorporates the binomial nature of the indicator variables, the transition of mapped plot conditions and an intuitively appealing way to combine data from varying remeasurement periods for a temporally dependent variable.