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Central Appalachians FLN Forest Structure & Composition Monitoring Protocol


​Forest Structure and Composition Monitoring
in the Heart of the Appalachians
In 2009, after several years of collaboration by partners in the Heart of the Appalachians landscape​​ of the Central Appalachian Fire Learning Network (FLN), The Nature Conservancy and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests adopted a Forest Structure and Composition Monitoring Protocol for use in controlled burns and other vegetation management treatments. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Department of Conservation and Recreation have also adopted this protocol.​
Before developing this protocol, partners first identified the specific characteristics or attributes that could be used to define an ecological system’s integrity or condition. By assessing the current state of these attributes for ecological systems found in the region, partners generally found that Appalachian pine-oak forests have experienced increased canopy closure, increased density of fire-intolerant species, diminished oak and pine regeneration, and lack of herbaceous groundcover from their historic range of variability. Partners subsequently determined desired landscape conditions for those systems and developed key indicators for successful maintenance and restoration of those conditions.
This Monitoring Protocol was specifically designed to measure changes in those key indicators of ecological condition over time. Data collected for this Protocol has been entered into a shared FEAT/FIREMON Integrated (FFI) database for retrieval and analysis and the accompanying datasheets were recently formatted to improve data entry into FFI. 
Please contact the Central Appalachians FLN Monitoring Working Group co-leaders Nikole Simmons (nikole.simmons @ or (540) 839-3599) or Lindsey Curtin (lindsey.curtin @ or (540) 265-5220) for more information.