U.S. Forest Service

11/25/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/25/2020 13:21

A Role Model for Federal Accountability: The FIA Annual Business Report

Mila Alvarez and Lara T. Murray
Research and Development
November 25th, 2020 at 8:47AM
Helicopter-dropped crew (Dan Durfee and Ian Kottke) measuring forest plots in Kupreanof Island, Coastal Alaska

For nearly 100 years, the USDAForest Service has been building the world's largest continuous body of data on forests, including, health, biomass, extent, and ownership. Over the years, the Forest Inventory and Analysis program has expanded, and today information from 325,000 forest plots across 50 states and U.S. islands is collected and made available to the public.

Compiling that information is a daunting task. And it is foundational for managing our national forests, as well as the work of researchers, government agencies, businesses, and international partners. In 2019 alone, 4.5 million online requests were made for Forest Inventory and Analysis program data.

The Forest Inventory and Analysis Annual Business Report provides a snapshot of how the program operates, and is a clear recognition of its responsibility to Congress and the public, who want to know if we are holding itself responsible for spending public funds. This year, the agency published its 22nd edition, which lays out how funds and human resources flow through this deeply complex program. The report details how resources are used, what concrete results are achieved, and the partnerships we develop.

With more than 600 scientists, analysts and crew members, 117 agreements with partners, and about 125 contributors across the United States, the report shows how the Forest and Inventory Analysis program accomplishes its mission. Through a network of state forestry agencies, universities, and other partners, the program cost-effectively meets evolving public needs.

In some cases, the program funds partners to collect data on their behalf, and when state forestry agencies or other stakeholders need to intensify the plot network or the survey frequency, partners provide funds to the Forest Inventory and Analysis program or contribute to the program by directly collecting and analyzing forest data. In 2019, partners provided an additional $11.7 million in contributions to the Forest Inventory and Analysis program.

This nimble management requires careful planning and trust. The annual Forest Inventory and Analysis Business Report is a clear example of how that is achieved, continuing a legacy of transparency, scientific integrity and focused management.

The 2019 FIA Business Report may be found here. The FIA Program site also provides more information.