Forest Survey is Changing...

jostnix at jostnix at
Mon Apr 14 11:33:57 EST 1997

[Note of Explanation for Non-foresters:   The USFS surveys timberland  (both govt and prvt lands)  and quantifies America's timber.  This has been done for at least 50 years.  The data is published
and presented to the forestry community and academia.  This statistical sampling of plots is used to "blow-up" estimates of timber volumes, growth and removals by region.  You can even determine
growth, drain and volumes by species within a specific radius.  It has a spot on the web.]

With record southern timber prices, increased cut, potential rapid growth and an economically critical forest resource, southern state foresters and industry foresters are demanding new survey data. 
Even the survey's detractors want a new survey (maybe just to argue with the numbers).  The southern forestry community, more or less, like this data.  State foresters hear about its value or lack of
value over and over at forestry association meetings.

OK, so whats the problem?

The Forest Service has had to increase the survey cycle in many states to more than 10 years due to funding and this limits the data's usability.  If you work with this data very much, you know that
after five years most of it is looked on with suspicion and throwned to the biometric modelers.

Then all hell breaks loose...

Depending on the model, we may be losing trees or gaining trees, losing volume or gaining volume, losing forested acreage or gaining acreage, cutting more than we grow or grow more than we cut,
running out of pine or running out of hardwood, and on and on and on...Still the USFS still cannot get there any sooner.

Alabama is concerned about this because of the consumptive effects 15 pulp and paper mills, over 400 pine and hardwood sawmills, many composite board and plywood mills and pole mills.  Secondary
manufacturers of wood products are also concerned as you can imagine.

Alabama is the first southern state to take on a major part of surveying it's forest.  As this is being written five new crews are measuring trees in Alabama (under the training and supervision of
the USFS survey unit out of Starkville Mississippi) and are starting the survey at least two years before USFS crews are to come in.  The Forest Service will not let a state crew leader measure a
plot until he passes a survey examination.

This additional manpower speeds the survey.  Every Southern state gains from Alabama's work.  No matter how you may like or dislike government forestry or government in general, collection of data is
what it does best.  No other organization can afford or equip or provide manpower for such an effort.  And is this not as important as the  many other things our  (yes, your) government is in? 

By the way, a portion of the survey will be funded by members of the Alabama Forestry Association (the forest industry).

It is time that all states take over some portion or their own survey.  Do the Feds have to physically do this survey or can they be better used by maintaining data quality and monitoring data
collection?  Will Alabama be the only state to acknowlege that forest data collection is of prime importance for southern forest decision making?  

``````) (_________
John Stephen Nix
"Everybodys ignorant 'cept on different things"  Will Rogers
Alabama Forestry Data Link

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