What is Forest Biometrics?

Forest biometrics – is not defined in the Society of American Foresters 1998 Dictionary of Forestry.  It may be defined by understanding this specific combination of the words – forest and biometrics.  The traditional (20th century) and apparently outdated description of forest biometrics was forest mensuration.

Forestry – the profession embracing the science, art, and practice of treating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources for human benefit and in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs and values – note the broad field of forestry consists of those biological, physical, and managerial sciences that are applied to forest management and conservation.

Biometrics can be best defined by breaking down the word: bio, as in biological; and metric, as in measurement. Therefore, biometrics are biological measurements.  Forest biometrics are measurements applied in forestry.  Prodan (1968) described forest biometrics as the methods of mathematical statistics and biometrics that are significant to forestry.

Mensuration is traditionally defined as a branch of mathematics dealing with the measurement of lengths of lines, areas of surfaces, and volumes of solids.  In forestry, it encompasses the determination of dimensions, form, weight, growth, volume, health and age of trees, individually or collectively.

Therefore, Forest Biometrics is the science of forest (Bio) measurement (metrics).  It encompasses the quantification of biological and physical characteristics of trees and associated vegetation, insects, disease, wildlife, topography, soils, and climate, individually and collectively.  These characteristics include all quantifiable attributes within forestry, both temporal and spatial.  (James D. Arney, 2006, FBRI)

Without the science of forest biometrics, forest management would be reduced to a profession limited to observation and narration.  Attempts at silvicultural treatments would be random and without definition, either prior or subsequent to a treatment action.  Forest inventory, site growth capacity, forest health or sustainable capacity would be unknown.  The most essential attribute of any science is the ability to quantify all attributes within some reasonable level of precision and consistency.

What is Forest Projection System (FPS) software?

The Forest Projection & Planning System (FPS) is a fully integrated software and database system for managing working forests.  It integrates inventory, silviculture, growth, planning and GIS services into one system.  This means that volumes, biomass, carbon and log values are computed identically within the inventory cruise compiler, the silvicultural growth model and the forest-wide harvest scheduler.  No other forest management package, anywhere in North American, provides this degree of integration.

Tree volumes, site curves and species-specific growth dynamics are provided from direct, first-hand analyses of over 20,000 permanent research plots and 16,000 felled trees across more than 26 tree species.

FPS can help you to analyze your forest inventory, grow your inventory, evaluate alternative silvicultural regimes, determine sustained yield, and calculate financial return.   The benefits of using FPS include:

  1. FPS integrates with your GIS, planning and inventory systems.
  2. The FPS Universal library covers all North American forested regions, is standalone and updatable.
  3. FPS database calibrations are based on over 20,000 research plots and 16,000 felled trees.  These calibrations are reviewed on a continual basis as new research data becomes available, computer operating systems evolve, or regulatory agencies invoke new restrictions or mandatory guidance upon working forests.
  4. FPS can model the full range of silvicultural systems, plantation or natural – from even to uneven aged.
  5. FPS is a distant dependent model for high resolution silvicultural analyses.

FPS provides the tools, methods and support to give you the knowledge and confidence to make informed long-term decisions. FBRI supporting organizations use FPS to manage over 12 million acres of US timberlands.

Comparison of Software Suites

What is the Forest Biometrics Research Institute (FBRI)?

The Forest Biometrics Research Institute (FBRI) is a non-profit public research corporation dedicated to sustainable and scientifically based forest management.  The Forest Biometrics Research Institute is a research, development, service and education organization in the field of forest inventory, forest growth and forest planning.

“Software & Services for the Forest Industry since 2003″

The Forest Biometrics Research Institute (FBRI) was founded on August 14, 2003 as an independent research corporation. Financial endowments, annual contributions and grants are the basis for its annual operating budget. The Forest Biometrics Research Institute is:

  • Organized for advanced research, education and service in the field of forest biometrics;
  • Devoted to the advancement of scientifically grounded and verified forest biometrics practices and procedures in the forest industry; and,
  • Structured to serve the forestry profession and specifically forestry organizations in all Western States.

The Mission of this Institute is to assist the forest industry in:

  • Achieving maximum productivity potential and use from the forest land base;
  • Integrating all silvicultural treatments, environmental impacts and economic constraints;
  • Deliver and validate improved decision-support tools; and,
  • Quantify treatment effects on biodiversity and landscape diversity.

The Institute originally filed Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for the State of Montana, it received corporate 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the IRS and non-profit status within the State of Oregon as a research corporation. The Institute has filed and received copyright and trademark rights to the name, “Forest Biometrics Research Institute” from the US Patents Office. These steps ensure identity and longevity of the Institute, its mission and security of its endowments and funds.

Background

As evidence of an ongoing decline in forestry research, the National Research Council formed a Committee on National Capacity in Forestry Research. The Committee’s report was completed in 2002 and approved by the National Academy of Sciences for publication and distribution. The following statements have been quoted from that report:

“In brief, this report suggests that our current forestry research capacity is neither adequate now, nor poised for success in the coming years. This report identifies significant declines in real research capacity, fragmented cooperation and poor communication among the principal providers and users of forestry research, inadequate support of both foundation and emerging disciplines, and little strategic planning to address future forestry research needs.”

“In the committee’s opinion forestry research capacity is at a crossroads, if not a precipice.”

“If left unchanged, its future will entail a steady erosion of intellectual and institutional capacity, and dwindling capacity and impact. Alternatively, forestry research could renew its commitment to innovation, cooperation, relevance, and extension in order to prosper and enhance the practice of forestry in this century. This latter vision will require levels of cooperation, support, real exchange of financial and technical support, and stakeholder support that do not currently exist.”

The report is available from the National Academy Press in Washington, D.C. as International Standard Book Number 0-309-08456-3 and contains 144 pages.

FBRI was formed in 2002 by James D. Arney, unware that the National Research Council had produced a report.  A recommendation in that report identified the need for a “center of excellence” being established to renew the commitment to forestry R&D.  The mission of FBRI is to fill that need within the science of forest biometrics.

Why should forest managers support and participate in ongoing forestry Research & Development:

  1. Much of the current riparian, wildlife and social regulations applied to forest management are based on belief rather than fact or well-grounded field research.
  2. These regulations put serious financial constraints on working forests by limiting the range of silvicultural options deemed acceptable.  Harvest capacity is reduced and operational acres are restricted.
  3. Only ongoing forestry R&D investment may provide a counter or contradict these attacks on active forest management practices.
  4. Only FBRI is actively pursuing and providing a mission of ongoing and new field research and felled-tree studies into site, tree taper, silviculture and growth modeling for active working forests.

Where should forest managers look for knowledge and experience in the dynamics of working forests?  Perhaps we may suggest some guidance:

a) Who currently maintains and provides a fully-integrated forest management software and database package – FBRI and ???

b) Who currently maintains, reviews and updates site curves, taper models and growth models on a regular basis – FBRI and ???

c) Who currently provides ongoing technical support to the forestry profession – FBRI and ???

d) Who currently maintains the largest, most diverse (species, silviculture, regional) research database – FBRI or ???

e) How many alternative forestry R&D organizations exist with the primary mission to support the forest industry – FBRI and ???

A consulting organization may provide assistance to apply current technologies where a land management organization has no internal professional staff.

An R&D service organization maintains, reviews, improves and provides the most reliable and defensible basis for active decision-making on working forests.

Approaches to Planning