Plotting the Future by Monitoring the Past

Researchers have been revisiting the same forests, and the same trees, for fifty years, tracking tree growth and mortality over the decades. 

In 1910, scientists with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station and their collaborators established multiple permanent sample plots across the region, largely in natural, Douglas-fir forests, to study timber growth and yield. These plots were initially viewed as independent studies, but it became clear in the late 20th century that treating them as a cohesive plot network would broaden understanding of forest dynamics. A plot network, as opposed to individually managed plots, could support consistent monitoring efforts at each location and produce a large-scale, long-term dataset that would enable scientists to answer more complex questions about how forest dynamics vary across space and time. To learn more about this long-term research, visit the story map, Plotting the Future by Monitoring the Past.

Also see our Permanent Vegetation Plots page, the Pacific Northwest Permanent Sample Plot program website, and images of field work in our image gallery.