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DATA & ANALYSIS
  • FOREST INVENTORY AND ANALYSIS: FAQS

    Frequently asked questions about Forest Inventory & Analysis (FIA):
     + What is Forest Inventory and Analysis?
    FIA is the nation's forest census. It provides the information needed to assess America’s forests. FIA reports on status and trends in forest area and location; in the species, size and health of trees; in total tree growth, mortality and removals by harvest; in wood production and utilization rates by various products; and in forest land ownership.

    The enhanced FIA program includes information relating to tree crown condition, lichen community composition, soils, ozone indicator plants, complete vegetative diversity and coarse woody debris.

    The FIA program is managed nationally by the research and development organization within the USDA Forest Service in cooperation with state and private forestry and national forest systems. FIA has been in operation under various names (Forest Survey, Forest Inventory and Analysis) for some 70 years.

    The program is implemented in Texas in cooperation with Texas A&M Forest Service, which conducts data collection, and private landowners who grant access to their lands for data collection purposes.
     + Why is FIA important?

    FIA provides objective and scientifically credible information on key forest ecosystem processes: how much forest there is, what it looks like, whether the forest area is increasing or decreasing, whether we are gaining or losing species, how quickly trees are growing, dying, and being harvested, and how the forest ecosystem is changing over time with respect to the soil and other vegetative community attributes. Such information has many important uses including:

    • Helping policy makers at federal and state levels formulate good forest policy, and to assess the sustainability of current and past policy
    • Enabling land managers to devise better management plans and to assess the effects of current and past management practices on the land
    • Serving as a starting point for scientific investigations in a variety of areas which involve changes in forest ecosystems over time
    • Formulating business plans which will be both economically and ecologically sustainable over time
    • Keeping the public informed about the health and sustainability of the nation's forests
    • Improving the effectiveness of wildfire protection due to increased knowledge and understanding of available fuels
    • Identifying harmful invasive species, which can lead to development of adequate control programs
    • Providing accurate models for land managers to use to project species change over time
    • Identifying changes to wildlife habitat over time

    FIA is the only program which provides consistent, credible and periodic forest data for all forestland (public and private) within the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. Pacific territories.

     + What constitutes forested lands?
    Land is considered forested if it is at least 1 acre in size and has 10 percent crown cover or 60 seedlings per acre in the eastern part of Texas or 5 percent crown cover or 40 seedlings per acre in western and central parts of the state. These criteria are standardized at the national level to be consistent between states.
     + Will FIA personnel access my property without permission?
    No. Our agency believes strongly that private landowners are the leading force behind the protection and sustainability of natural resources in the state through their land management practices and we will not participate in any actions that might jeopardize the trust between you and TFS.
     + Will any information regarding endangered species be recorded?
    No. Nowhere in the survey will any information regarding endangered species be recorded. Data is reported on a county, regional and statewide basis, ensuring the confidentiality of individual landowner information. All tallied species are found commonly throughout the state.
     + How will data be released?
    Data will be published by the U.S. Forest Service in five-year reports. Data will always be reported at county, regional or statewide levels to ensure confidentiality of individual landowner information.
     + How was my property selected as a plot location?
    Plot location is determined by the U.S. Forest Service and is on approximately a 3 mile by 3 mile grid. Ownership is not taken into consideration when determining plot locations. Plots occur on government, corporate and private lands.
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