A Yearly Health Checkup for U.S. Forests

Every year, the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks changing forest conditions, including national assessments as well as focused regional analysis. The resulting report is the only national summary of forest health undertaken on an annual basis. Forests constantly change as a result of tree growth and mortality, weather events and climate…  More 

Water Supply from Southern State and Private Forest Lands

Forests provide the most stable and highest quality water supplies among all land uses. A report by the Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service quantifies the role of state and private forest lands (SPF) in providing drinking water supply across the southern United States. About half of the South’s land area is forested,…  More 

Black Locust & Drought

With its symbiotic bacteria, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) makes its own nitrogen fertilizer – and can share it with other tree species. “In early successional temperate forests, symbiotic nitrogen fixation is often the main source of new nitrogen,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Chelcy Miniat. But drought could slow the rate of symbiotic nitrogen fixation,…  More 

Managing Drought in Forest Ecosystems

More wildfire. More insects and diseases. Less predictable timber supply. Less predictable water supply. Changing wildlife habitat. Severe drought can cause all of these impacts, and more. USDA Forest Service scientists and partners have created a new resource to help land managers anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from drought. “Maintaining healthy and diverse…  More 

Assessing the Health of U.S. Forests

Forests are complex ecosystems. They are constantly changing as a result of tree growth, variations in weather and climate, and disturbances from fire, pathogens, and other stressors. The USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks these ongoing changes — every year, across the nation — as a forest health check up. The 2018…  More 

How Drought and Thinning Affect Water Balances in Southeastern Pine Plantations

Evapotranspiration – the combination of water evaporation and plant transpiration – is an essential process for forests and water supply and climate. This is particularly true in the Southeastern U.S. where evapotranspiration from forested watersheds can return 50 to 90 percent of annual precipitation to the atmosphere. Until now, there has been a gap in…  More 

The State of the Nation’s Forests

Forests are constantly changing with weather, disturbance, and conversion to other land uses, but how do we know if year-to-year changes are just a one-off or part of a larger shift? Annual summaries of forest health are key to our understanding, say the editors and authors that produced Forest Health Monitoring: National Status, Trends, and…  More 

Annual Forest Health Checkup

Insects, diseases, droughts, and fire threaten forests. Each year, the U.S. Forest Service assesses threats facing the nation’s forests. Forest managers, scientists, and decision-makers rely on the annual reports. SRS recently published the 2016 Forest Health Monitoring report. The report is the 16th in the annual series, and is sponsored by the FS Forest Health…  More 

Black Locust & Drought Tolerance

By affecting plant growth, drought could potentially affect the nitrogen cycle too. “Some plants – with help from their bacterial companions – can fix atmospheric nitrogen,” says U.S. Forest Service researcher and project leader Chelcy Miniat. Atmospheric nitrogen gas, or N2, is plentiful. This form of nitrogen is inaccessible to most plants. However, legumes such…  More 

Topography and Drought

The planet is changing, and the hydrologic cycle will change along with it. Extreme droughts – as well as extremely wet weather – are expected to become more frequent and more intense. “These changes may interact with topography to affect species composition in unexpected ways,” says Chelcy Miniat. Miniat is a researcher and project leader…  More