Principles of Vegetation Measurement & Assessment
and Ecological Monitoring & Analysis


Veg Sampling
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Forest Health Monitoring

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Monitoring Vegetation Community Health

Overview of Forest Health Monitoring Program

The Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Program is a national program managed by the US Forest Service designed to determine the status, changes, and trends in indicators of forest condition on an annual basis.

  • Initiated in 1990 to provide information on the status, changes, and trends in forest health and sustainability.
  • The Plot Component of FHM was integrated with the Forest Inventory and Analysis program in 1999.
  • The FHM program provides information on all forest lands to land-managers and policy makers that affects, directly or indirectly, all Americans.

Objectives of the Forest Health Monitoring System:

  • Establish a monitoring system throughout the forests of the United States to determine detrimental changes or improvements that occur over time.
  • Provide baseline and health trend information that is statistically precise and accurate.
  • Report annually on status and changes to forest health.

Major FHM Activities:

  • Detection Monitoring nationally standardized aerial and ground surveys to evaluate status and change in condition of forest ecosystems.
  • Evaluation Monitoring - projects to determine extent, severity, and causes of undesirable changes in forest health identified through Detection Monitoring.
  • Intensive Site Monitoring to enhance understanding of cause-effect relationships by linking Detection Monitoring to ecosystem process studies and assess specific issues, such as calcium depletion and carbon sequestration, at multiple spatial scales.
  • Research on Monitoring Techniques to develop or improve indicators, monitoring systems, and analytical techniques, such as, urban and riparian forest health monitoring, early detection of invasive species, multivariate analyses of forest health indicators, and spatial scan statistics.
  • Analysis and Reporting - synthesis of information from various data sources within and external to the Forest Service to produce issue-driven reports on status and change in forest health at National, Regional, and State levels.

FHM Indicators:

  • Tree Growth
  • Tree Regeneration
  • Tree Crown Condition
  • Tree Damage
  • Tree Mortality
  • Lichen Communities
  • Ozone Bioindicator-Plants
  • Soil Morphology and Chemistry
  • Vegetation Structure
  • Plant Diversity

Details of Forest Health Monitoring

A full manuals of field guides and protocols for Forest Health Monitoring can be viewed and down loaded from the Forest Health Monitoring Website at:

View this PowerPoint Presentation (3.5 Mb ) for a more detailed a brief overview of the FHM protocol presented by Borys M. Tkacz, National Program Manager for the FHM project

Also, explore the Forest Health Monitoring web site and the Fact Sheets about the FHM program.

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