Photo of Sonja Oswalt

Sonja Oswalt

Forest Resource Analyst
4700 Old Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919-5206
Phone: 865-862-2058

Current Research

  • National-level analysis of forest resources for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • National-level analysis of forest resources for the Montreal Process global Sustainability Report
  • Forest Resources of Mississippi and Louisiana
  • Changes in forest conditions in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley
  • Invasive plants in forest communities
Smith, W. Brad; Cuenca Lara, Rubí Angélica; Delgado Caballero, Carina Edith; Godínez Valdivia, Carlos Isaías; Kapron, Joseph S.; Leyva Reyes, Juan Carlos; Meneses Tovar, Carmen Lourdes; Miles, Patrick D.; Oswalt, Sonja N.; Ramírez Salgado, Mayra; Song, Xilong Alex; Stinson, Graham; Villela Gaytán, Sergio Armando. 2018. The North American Forest Database: going beyond national-level forest resource assessment statistics. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 190(6): 635-.

Research Interests

I am interested in landscape level analyses, particularly in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. I enjoy wildlife-habitat dynamics as well as investigating the impacts of invasive plants in forest communities.

Oswalt, S.N. 2017. Forests of Louisiana, 2014. Resource Update FS–117. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 4 p. Padley, Eunice A.; Oswalt, Sonja N. 2016. Overview of forest conditions in coastal counties. In: Stringer, Christina E.; Krauss, Ken W.; Latimer, James S., eds. 2016.  In: Stringer, Christina E.; Krauss, Ken W.; Latimer, James S., eds. 2016. Headwaters to estuaries: advances in watershed science and management -Proceedings of the Fifth Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds. March 2-5, 2015, North Charleston, South Carolina. e-General Technical  Report  SRS-211. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 1 p.

Past Research

My past research includes changing songbird populations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, impacts of sedimentation and "valley plugs" on forest communities in West Tennessee, Invasive plant impacts in forest communities, and various national analyses.

Schulz, Bethany; Oswalt, Sonja; Moser, W. Keith. 2008. Vegetation Inventory Data: How Much is Enough?. In: McWilliams, Will; Moisen, Gretchen; Czaplewski, Ray; comps. 2008. 2008 Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Symposium; October 21-23, 2008; Park City, UT. Proc. RMRS-P-56CD. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 1 CD. Oswalt, Sonja N.;Brandeis, Thomas J.; Dimick, Britta P. 2006. Phytosociology of Vascular Plants on an International Biosphere Reserve: Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, US Virgin Islands. Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 42, No. 1, :53-66, Oswalt, Sonja N.; Oswalt, Christopher M. 2008. Relationships between common forest metrics and realized impacts of Hurricane Katrina on forest resources in Mississippi. Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 255: 1692-1700


M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science with Minor in Statistics, 2003
University of Tennessee
B.S. in Botany, 1998
University of Tennessee

Professional Experience

Forester, USDA Forest Service SRS-FIA

Forest resource analysis for Mississippi, Louisiana, and national and global reporting processes.

Research Associate, University of Tennessee

Pilot test and evaluate Phase 3 understory vegetation protocol for USFS-SRS Forest Inventory and Analysis

Graduate Assistant, University of Tennessee

Researched the effects of coarse sedimentation on floodplain vegetation in the southeastern coastal plain, subsequent effects on wildlife populations, and restoration options.

Associate Scientist, Breedlove, Dennis, and Young Environmental Consultants

Rare plant surveys, wetland mitigation, GIS Mapping, environmental assessments, education programs for high schools

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters (SAF), Member (2014—Current)
  • Civil Rights Committee, Local Representative (2012—Current)
  • United Nations, Food And Agriculture Organization, North American Forestry Commission, Alternate Correspondent (2005—Current)
  • University of Tennessee, Invited Lecturer (2004—Current)

Awards and Recognition

Performance award, 2014
Superior performance
Appreciation award, 2014
Contribution to station Civil Rights Committee
Performance award, 2011
Superior performance
Spot Award, 2008
Acting supervisor
Directors Award, 2005
Contributions to integration of phase 3 with phase 2 in FIA

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Forest Resources of the United States, 2017 (2019)
SRS-2019-41 Forest Resources of the United States, 2017, is part of a series of General Technical Reports that provide information to the Resources Planning Act reporting process, as well as providing official statistics for the Global Forest Resources Assessment produced by the United Nations. The report summarizes Forest Inventory and Analysis data collected from all 50 States and associated islands and territories. The report and associated data visualizations are available online with new visualizations forthcoming.

Potential to Increase Carbon Sequestration with Tree Planting (2020)
NRS-2020-68 Almost one-third of Earth’s total land area is comprised of forest, which is also the largest terrestrial carbon sink. A Northern Research Station scientist and his partners have established that fully stocking the Nation’s understocked forests could increase carbon sequestration by about 20 percent.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
SRS Science Area
External Resources