Seeing the forest and the trees: new paper argues “two scales are better than one”

The Manitou Forest region in which the study took place.

A new paper explores how remotely sensed data and field level information to shed light upon a changing northern forest.

In a paper titled “Two scales are better than one: Monitoring multiple-use northern temperate forests,” lead author Mark Wright of the Nature Conservancy writes that using multiple scales of data brought out trends in the northern Minnesota forest that would not have been seen if researchers stayed at a single scale.

“Combining remotely sensed and field data provided a more robust evidence base for decision-making than either approach could have provided alone. For example, examining remote-sensing data alone indicates that the rate of severe disturbance (timber harvest) peaked during the 20-year analysis period, and has declined in recent years. As disturbance rates declined, patch size and the proportion of forest in later successional stages all increased from year 2000 levels. These indicators of landscape structure showed positive shifts towards conservation objectives, but only tell part of the whole story. Field data elucidate a number of negative trends, including poor regeneration of key species…”

The paper was published in the January 2017 issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

Northwest Boreal LCC partners have conducted work to explore a coordinated monitoring program across the boreal forest, leveraging existing field-level collection program and remotely sensed data.

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