High-resolution maps provide new perspective on tree cover in the Central Plains
Tree resources in agricultural landscapes play critical roles in conserving soil, improving water quality, and sequestering carbon. These trees often occur in configurations that are too small or narrow to be included in the nation’s “forest census” conducted by the Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Northern Research Station and National Agroforestry Center are working to develop techniques for high-resolution land cover mapping that would include these tree resources and help guide monitoring, management, and planting efforts. In 2016, the Forest Service established official agreements with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT) and Kansas Forest Service to work jointly on land cover mapping. Forest Service personnel and National Agroforestry Center staff have developed operational mapping methods and are transferring the technology to the partner institutions via training, documentation, and custom geographic information systems toolkits. Mapping in Kansas and Nebraska has been completed. New partnerships to expand mapping into the northern and southern Great Plains were established in 2017.