iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Benefits of a strategic national forest inventory to science and society: the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program

John D Shaw   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 81-85 (2008)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0345-0010081
Published: Feb 28, 2008 - Copyright © 2008 SISEF

Commentaries & Perspectives

Forest Inventory and Analysis, previously known as Forest Survey, is one of the oldest research and development programs in the USDA Forest Service. Statistically-based inventory efforts that started in Scandinavian countries in the 1920s raised interest in developing a similar program in the U.S. The U.S. Congress established the research branch of the U.S. Forest Service in 1928, shortly after Dr. Yrjö Ilvessalo, leader of the first Finnish national forest inventory, met with President Calvin Coolidge. Congress charged the Forest Service to find “facts as may be necessary in the determination of ways and means to balance the timber budget of the United States”. As a result, Forest Survey maintained a timber focus for much its history. As society’s interest in forests changed over time, so did information needs. Conflicts over resource allocation and use could not be resolved without up-to-date knowledge of forest status and trends. In response to society’s needs, the Forest Inventory and Analysis program has evolved from Forest Survey to address diverse topics such as forest health, carbon storage, wildlife habitat, air pollution, and invasive plants, while continuing its mandate to monitor the Nation’s timber supply. The Forest Inventory and Analysis program collects data on all land ownerships on an annual basis. The data are used to develop reports on a regular basis; reports and raw data are available to the public at no cost. The data are also used by scientists in a growing number of applications. A short history of the Forest Survey is presented with several examples of current research based on Forest Inventory and Analysis data.


Forest Inventory, FIA, Silviculture, Disturbance, United States

Authors’ address

John D Shaw
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station - 507 25th Street, Ogden, Utah (USA)

Corresponding author

John D Shaw


Shaw JD (2008). Benefits of a strategic national forest inventory to science and society: the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program. iForest 1: 81-85. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0345-0010081

Paper history

Received: Dec 29, 2005
Accepted: Feb 07, 2006

First online: Feb 28, 2008
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2008
Publication Time: 25.03 months

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Articles citing this article

List of the papers citing this article based on CrossRef Cited-by.

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Report upon forestry. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Johnson RR (1997)
A historical perspective of the Forest Vegetation Simulator. In: Proceedings - Forest Vegetation Simulator conference, Feb. 3-7, 1997 (Teck R, Moeur M and Adams J eds). USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-373. pp 3-4.
Long JN, Shaw JD (2005)
A density management diagram for even-aged ponderosa pine stands. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 20: 205-215.
Online | Gscholar
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Comprehensive regional resource assessments and multipurpose uses of forest inventory and analysis data, 1976 to 2001: a review. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station.
Online | Gscholar
Shaw JD (2005)
Aspen stand structure and composition in the western U.S.: implications for management. Proceedings: Canadian Institute of Forestry / Society of American Foresters Joint 2004 Annual General Meeting and Convention. October 2-6, 2004. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Bethesda, Maryland: Society of American Foresters. [published on CD-ROM].
Online | Gscholar
Shaw JD, Steed BE, De Blander LT (2005)
Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) annual inventory answers the question: what is happening to pinyon-juniper woodlands? Journal of Forestry 103: 280-285.
Online | Gscholar
Society of American Foresters (2005)
USDA scientists estimate Katrina destroyed 19 billion board feet of timber. The E-Forester, September 19, 2005 [distributed by email].
US Department of Agriculture (2005)
USDA Forest Service reports significant damage by hurricane Katrina to public and private timberland. News Release No. 0376.05 (September 15, 2005). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
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The history of the Forest Survey program in the United States. In: Proceedings of the IUFRO Centennial Meeting, August 31 - September 4, 1992, Berlin, Germany (Preto G, Koch B eds). Japan Society of Forest Planning Press, Tokyo University of Agriculture, pp. 19-27.
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User’s guide to the Stand Prognosis Model. USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-133. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, Utah.

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