The Inventory, Monitoring & Analysis (IMA) research topic provides the resource data, analysis, and tools needed to effectively identify current status and trends, management options and impacts, and threats and impacts of fire, insects, disease, and other natural processes, enhancing the use and value of our Nation’s natural resources.
Resource data and information are complete across the landscape for cross-boundary assessments, of known quality for appropriate application, scalable to the application of interest, and timely to current situations and impacts. Appropriate tools are in use and improvement is continuous.
Current and Emerging Issues
- Increased insect, disease, and fire incidence, combined with increased forest fragmentation, are restricting land managers and policy makers from sustainably providing forest and rangeland goods and services while maintaining biodiversity.
- Rapidly changing trends in production, demand, ownership, use, and management have reduced resource availability for consumptive — lumber, mushrooms, fish — and non consumptive – wildlife viewing, recreation — uses.
- Improved and increased use of new information management technologies and remote sensing will increase timeliness and spatial resolution to make sound resource management decisions and reduce the risk of unsustainable forest activities.
- Failure to implement the Annual Forest Inventory nation-wide has left key states with obsolete resource data, limited planning ability, inadequate policy, and ineffective resource protections, increasing management costs and the risk of fire, insects, and disease damage.
- Decreasing inventory and monitoring capacities are limiting public land managers and planners in conducting adequate resource assessments, increasing legal challenges, management costs, and forest health risks.
- Declining water quality and reduced storage capacity due to forest cover loss will increase water treatment and availability cost for residential, agricultural, and industrial uses.
IMA's core strengths and continued areas of focus include:
- ACTIVITY 1: Conduct Resource Inventory – Provide data, reports, maps, and consultation services to forest managers, land owners, policy makers, researchers, analysts, and other interest groups so they can use scientifically sound information to conduct analyses in a timely manner
- ACTIVITY 2: Periodic Resource Assessments – Provide resource monitoring and assessment services to international, national and local policy makers, land managers, investors, and municipalities so they can make informed decisions based on scientifically credible analyses. The Forest Service has been producing a national renewable resources assessment, known as the Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment, since the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) was enacted in 1974.
- ACTIVITY 3: Quantitative Analysis and Techniques – Provide techniques, tools, and analyses services to public and private land management organizations, consultants, industry, and interest groups so they can make inventory and monitoring more effective and efficient and so they can identify risks, trends, and emerging issues to make sound decisions and land management plans.
The following are areas of future need in which IMA is seeking to increase R&D capacity:
- Complete national implementation of annual forest inventories so forest managers, land owners, policy makers, researchers, analysts, and other interest groups can use scientifically sound data, reports, maps, and consultation services to conduct analyses in a timely manner. Data is needed to assess (1) biomass as a sustainable energy source, (2) changes in forest carbon stocks for carbon sequestration, (3) forest fuel loads, (4) valuation of forests for ecosystem services, and (5) changes in status and trends of forest health.
- Track and report trends of national sustainability core indicators so international, national and local policy makers, land managers, investors, and municipalities can make informed decisions based on scientifically credible resource monitoring and assessment services and analyses. Examples include the Sustainability Reporting in the United States and the Southern Forest Futures Report.
- Develop and deliver models, techniques, tools, and analysis services to improve inventory and monitoring applications and resource assessments by public and private land management organizations, consultants, industry, and interest groups leading to sound land use decisions.
Participate in cross-research topic activities on:
- Urban environments, including quantifying and predicting patterns, effects, and benefits
- Ecosystem services, including assessment, monitoring, measurement, and valuation
- Climate change, including assessing, monitoring, and valuing carbon stocks and markets