Research Natural Area guidance, evaluation, and establishment criteria

Research Natural Image from Chuquatonchee Bluffs

The National Strategy for the Forest Service (FS) Research Natural Areas Program (PDF; 19 KB) was provided by the Chief of the Forest Service in July 1993.

Below is more specific information for FS personnel on FS Directives to the FS Manual relative to RNAs.

RNA Guidance

RNA guidance is provided in the Forest Service Manual (FSM) 4063 - Research Natural Areas

Research Natural Area. As defined by the Federal Committee on Ecological Reserves (FSM 4063.43, para.1):

A physical or biological unit in which current natural conditions are maintained insofar as possible. These conditions are ordinarily achieved by allowing natural physical and biological processes to prevail without human intervention. However, under unusual circumstances, deliberate manipulation may be utilized to maintain the unique feature that the Research Natural Area was established to protect.

Research Natural Areas may be used only for Research and Development, study, observation, monitoring, and those educational activities that do not modify the conditions for which the Research Natural Area was established.

Please see FSM 4063 for more information.

Evaluation of potential RNAs

Guidance relative to RNA selection, sections 4063.05

Protection and Management Standards RNAs

Guidance relative to RNA protection and permitted uses of RNAs is provided in 4063.3

Establishment Criteria for RNAs

Guidance on to be contained in the establishment record for a recommended RNA is provided in section FSM 4063.4