US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Rachel Riemann

Rachel Riemann

Research Forester / Geographer
c/o USGS, 425 Jordan Road
New York
United States

Phone: 518-285-5607

Current Research

  • Fragmentation and urbanization of forest land:  We are interested in continually improving our ability to monitor frag/urban via metrics that are accurate, robust, relevant to known issues, and together completely describe the different characteristics – e.g. edges, patch size, interior forest conditions, land use context, proximity to roads, houses and population -- that are known to affect forest ecosystems.  Research includes development of a suite of metrics from several sources to maintain over time, integrating it with existing forest inventory data, and collaborating on research to identify important thresholds and further understand the impact of each on forested ecosystems. 
  • Geospatial modeling of forest characteristics:  We are continuing to develop methods to generate geospatial datasets (digital maps) of forest characteristics with known uncertainties and increasing accuracies. 
  • Accuracy assessment of geospatial data:  We have developed an assessment protocol for continuous geospatial data that can take advantage of the wealth of FIA plot data to characterize accuracy in terms of the magnitude, extent, type, and location of error in the datasets. 
  • Improving estimates of tree canopy cover:  We are continuing research to understand the accuracy of GEOBIA vs. current FIA photointerpreted and field estimates of tree canopy cover and find ways to improve those estimates.     
  • Science dissemination and communication:  We are developing online and hardcopy products and approaches for making all online geospatial data we develop more accessible to educational communities.

Research Interests

I am interested in continuing research in each of these areas, and look forward to increasing my research involvement as an FIA-Tribal liaison, and supporting efforts in community engagement and ecosystem services. 

Past Research

  • Developed an airphoto guide to identifying New England forest cover types
  • Investigated inventory protocols and assessed the amount of tree cover occurring in nonforest areas and thus being missed in an inventory of forest areas only.  The advent of the Urban FIA will gradually and formally add the inventory of trees in urban areas to the FIA database. 

Why This Research is Important

  • Forest fragmentation and urbanization affects sustainability of forest interior habitats, the ability of species to move through the landscape, the ease with which exotic, invasive or generalist species can gain a foothold, the ability of the forest to protect the quality and quantity of surface and ground water supplies, and sensitivity to pressures associated with climate change.  It also affects outdoor recreation oppotunities, types of forest management employed, forest products harvested, and local culture.
  • Maps and geospatial datasets of forest characteristics make forest inventory information more accessible without confidentiality issues and provide modeled estimates of forest characteristics in areas where ground inventory information is non-existent or sparse.
  • Accuracy and uncertainty measures associated with geospatial datasets (digital maps) substantially increase their utility.  Knowing the type, magnitude, and location of errors makes it easier to determine sufficient accuracy for a particular use or incorporate uncertainty into subsequent modeling.  
  • Tree canopy cover is an important factor for mitigating the effects of urbanization on water quality and quantity, characterizing potential wildlife habitat, supporting biomass and carbon stock estimates, and contributing to the calculation of ecosystem services provided by urban trees.  Accurate canopy cover information could also screening and stratification procedures used to implement forest inventories in urban and other nonforest areas, improving cost-effectiveness and resulting estimates of tree resources in these highly spatially variable areas.  
  • Science dissemination and communication: All of the above is of interest to a broader audience and wider range of uses than can currently readily access it.  E.g. Maps of forest characteristics and associated summary information can be used by Extension and schools for education if packaged in accessible pieces.  Access to this information, via both hardcopy and online products, facilitates both extension education and classroom studies in topics including invasive species, water quality, and climate change impacts. 



  • University of New Hampshire, Forestry , 1987
  • Middlebury College, Ecology , 1985

Professional Experience

  • Research Forester/Geographer, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis
    1997 - Current
  • Forester/Geographer, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis
    1993 - 1997

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Nationwide Datasets of Tree Species Distributions Created

Geospatial datasets of the relative abundance and distribution of individual tree species have been created by Forest Service scientists for 323 ...


Last updated on : 08/06/2015