Monitoring a quarter century of change in wetland forest types of the American Mid-Atlantic States

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Mark J. Brown

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Forested wetlands are unique and valuable landscape components contributing numerous ecological services and human benefits. Monitoring trends in their area and condition is critical to assessing sustainability of these important ecosystems. This paper evaluates changes in wetland forest types spanning more than 25 years from 1990 to 2018 for the American Mid-Atlantic States. Data used for assessment was collected from ground based sample plots distributed across the States of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Plot data were sourced from the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. In 2018 the area of wetland forest types in this Mid-Atlantic region totaled 5.2 million acres, down from 5.7 million acres in 1990. However, all of the decline occurred on private ownerships which dropped from 5.3 million acres to 4.6 million acres. Public ownership of wetland forest types increased from 0.4 million acres to less than 0.7 million acres. Public ownerships now contain 13 percent of the region’s wetland forest types. The paper further investigates changes which differ by State as well as factors behind the changes that include harvest levels, regeneration rates, weather events, and economic cycles. Identifying trends surrounding wetland forests provides information important to sustainable management decisions by planners and policy makers at numerous levels of society.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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