National Park Service

Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN)

Forest Health Monitoring

American beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves
American beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves

MIDN/NCBN Forest Vegetation Monitoring Protocol

Resource Briefs

Monitoring Reports

Monitoring Data

MIDN/NCBN Field Monitoring Locations

For more information contact: Sara Stevens or
Dennis Skidds

Importance / Issues

The Northeast Coastal Barrier region is not primarily a forested ecoregion, however several NCBN parks have forests that form an essential part of the landscape and provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife.

The current monitoring protocol will assess the status and trends of forest plant communities, and the impacts of stressors such as white-tailed deer, invasive exotic plants, exotic plant diseases and pathogens, and native forest pests, as well as the effect of acid deposition of forest soils. Evaluation of snags and downed woody debris will provide information on additional important habitat. Forest structure, composition, and dynamics are important measures of forest condition and health.

Changes in these metrics can be indicative of stressors that may result in alterations in the future ecological integrity of the forest communities and the species that depend on them. For example, high mortality rates among canopy trees may signal a change in the dominant forest species; declines in seedling and sapling densities could indicate a reduced capacity of the forest to regenerate; or, increases in invasive exotic plant cover could result in the competitive exclusion of other herbaceous plants in the forest understory.

Other anthropogenic stressors may have a long-term effect on the forest communities, including acid deposition which can alter soil chemistry, disrupting nutrient cycles. Increased habitat fragmentation surrounding parks can weaken the ecological integrity of the forests, increasing their susceptibility to exotic plant and pest invasions.

Parks Monitored

  • Colonial National Historic Park (COLO)
  • George Washington Birthplace National Monument (GEWA)
  • Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (SAHI)
  • Thomas Stone National Historic Site (THST)

Monitoring Objectives

  • Monitor status and trends in forest structure, composition, and dynamics of canopy, understory, and select herbaceous species.
  • Evaluate impact of deer browse on forest vegetation and regeneration potential.
  • Detect and monitor presence and effect of invasive exotic plants, exotic plant diseases and pathogens, and native forest pests.
  • Monitor trends in forest coarse woody debris and availability of snags.
  • Track changes in soil chemistry related to acid deposition effects.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster