Forest landowners are most concerned with the inventory of the resources and conditions on their own land. Using accepted tools and practices, county and consulting foresters can be fairly accurate in determining the type, number, and density of trees and understory plants, as well as the wood volumes, canopy closure, forest site quality, and the forest’s ability to grow. This data can be summarized and displayed in tables and maps and is necessary for the planning of forest management activities.
Measuring and monitoring natural resources is an important job for resource managers. Inventories exist on many scales─stands within individual woodland parcels, the forests of a town or region, state or nation. There are also inventories for soils, wildlife, water resources, and natural communities. While it may seem confusing that we have the ability and do measure resources in many ways, it is important to understand that each forest stand is part of a larger landscape for which data exists.
Some private landowners host inventory plots for larger surveys, such as the federal Forest Inventory and Assessment program (FIA) or the North American Maple study. These broad studies provide very little information about individual parcels, but do help to track trends in forest health and productivity throughout a state or region.