Skip to main content

Measuring Forest Regeneration

One of the most important (and often overlooked) elements of sustainable forest management is forest regeneration. New saplings and seedlings can emerge naturally through planting or with careful selection through management methods. Regardless of management intentions, an assessment of current regeneration in an area can be very valuable. This is true on any landscape, from recently cleared areas to older mature forests. 

Some of the reasons one might need this information include:

  • Providing necessary insight towards stand health and what prescribed management is needed
  • Assessing browse for wildlife, as well as habitat composition and biodiversity
  • More accurate accounting for carbon sequestration and modeling for carbon impact
  • Invasive species tracking, helping to determine presence and extent
  • Preferred species success and what competition may exist from other species

Many methods are used to assess regeneration and estimate trends over large areas. Most include a smaller “micro-plot” or “regen plot” within larger forest inventory plots. Within regeneration plots, a variety of details might be recorded. These include native and exotic species, size, percent groundcover (grasses and ferns), woody and herbaceous composition, invasives, browse, etc. 

The USDA Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program uses Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) plots to assess regeneration and make this information available at a large scale. The Wisconsin Continuous Forest Inventory (WisCFI) program has a tool called the Forest Regeneration Metric (FRM) which has a similar aim for the state. At Steigerwaldt Land Services, we use some of these same methods to measure regeneration at different intensities depending on the project. These methods are commonly used when capturing regeneration data for forest carbon inventory projects. This is an important tool for delivering high-quality information to clients and guiding management decisions.

– Chris King, Analytics and Technology Solutions Manager