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 Analysis 2017.

Scientists from across the Forest Service as well as university researchers, state partners, and many other experts contributed to the 2017 FHM report, which is the only national summary of forest health undertaken on an annual basis. The report includes short- and long-term forest health assessments from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. It also summarizes the status and trends of a variety of forest health indicators.

The 2017 FHM report reflects findings from the previous year. According to Potter, the state of U.S. forests as of 2016 is “troubling.” “We have a great deal of forest in the United States, and much of it is in good shape,” says Potter. “At the same time, fires, insects and diseases, and droughts are impacting forest health in many places, and some of those forests may be altered permanently.”

Here are the most notable highlights…


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