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National FIA
Spatial Data Services

Louis C. Wyman Forestry Sciences Laboratory
271 Mast Road
PO Box 640
Durham, NH 03824

Elizabeth LaPoint


 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

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The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of the USDA Forest Service has established tens of thousands of georeferenced forest inventory ground plots across the entire United States. For details on the goals of FIA, data collected, and selected publications, please refer to and  (program fact sheets). In addition to the biological data collected on each FIA plot, geographic location is collected using a global positioning system (GPS). 

In the FY2000 Consolidated Appropriations Bill (PL 106-113), Congress included language that modified the Food Security Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 2276(d)) to add FIA data collection to a list of items requiring confidential treatment. (For a link to the Privacy Law, click here.) Among other things, the law prevents FIA from disclosing sample locations in such a way that individual land ownership can be determined, and it provides for criminal penalties for violations. We feel strongly about our privacy policy because we need to protect landowners’ privacy, and we must avoid attracting activities that might intentionally or unintentionally affect the composition of the plot and alter the results of our inventory. 

Our privacy policy has the effect of restricting access to an invaluable database consisting of millions of georeferenced measurements of trees and ecological conditions collected from across the entire country. We have therefore established National FIA Spatial Data Services to facilitate outside use of our data while protecting the confidentiality of the sample locations. National FIA SDS exists to integrate spatial data such as satellite images, Geographic Information System (GIS) data and other spatial information with the FIA plot database.  The National FIA SDS staff will be available to fill data requests involving multiple FIA regions, and to fill requests delegated to it by individual FIA regions. Examples of such requests include but are not limited to:

  1. Combining satellite or other pixel-based data with the FIA plot locations and returning to the customer FIA plot data associated with a given raster map category (e.g., performing accuracy assessments, collecting training data, or helping inform environmental models);
  2. Summarizing FIA plot information inside of user-defined polygons such as watersheds, management units, political boundaries, or other areas of interest;
  3. Aiding in ecological modeling using raster or vector data layers supplied by the customer.

Mission Statement

The National FIA Spatial Data Services function is to connect geospatial information submitted by interested parties with geospatial information from the confidential FIA plot location database and return information to the customer that both meets their research or analysis needs and follows the confidentiality laws set out by the Congress of the United States. We believe that the FIA data should be widely accessible, and we seek to facilitate the distribution of the information to academia, government agencies and the public at large in a secure, timely and accurate manner.


The National FIA SDS is located at the Northeast FIA Unit office in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and is staffed by experienced GIS analysts who are familiar with FIA data. The staff have access to both a UNIX workstation and Windows 95/2000 PC’s with ArcView, Arc/INFO and associated modules, ArcGIS (including Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst, 3-d Analyst and others), Erdas Imagine and various spatial analytical software packages. Additional software, supplied by the requester, may be loaded as needed provided the requester has obtained appropriate licensing.


Disclaimers | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Privacy Notice