Forest ecosystems are exposed to numerous biotic and abiotic stressors that reduce ecosystem health in terms of state (integrity) and function (resilience). National forests are undertaking a new round of planning under the agency’s new 2012 Planning Rule, in which the maintenance and restoration of ecosystem integrity are two of its primary objectives in guiding strategic planning. To assist with this, Forest Service researchers developed the Terrestrial Condition Assessment (TCA) to provide a holistic and integrated assessment of ecosystem integrity.
TCA has been implemented as a spatial decision support system using the agency’s Ecosystem Management Decision Support System, which has been under development by the Pacific Northwest Research Station since 1994. The national TCA products have been made available to users in the National Forest System through a Web service developed by the agency’s Geospatial Technology Application Center in order to provide a science-based foundation and context for planning.
Regions and forests in the National Forest System have begun using TCA products as foundational information to guide Forest Plan revision. The Strategic Planning, Budget and Accountability staff (Washington Office) also has adopted TCA metrics to report performance on the agency’s Strategic Objective A (Restoring Ecosystem Integrity) to Congress.