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Forest Inventory

With forest composition changing over time, periodic inventories are needed to monitor this change. The Forestry Resources program has begun to inventory forest resources on Tribal land as an update to the inventory completed in 2003. The field work has begun and forest stands are being measured.

Setanta measuring girth.

What is being measured and why? Trees would be the simple answer, but a more complex answer would be the exact specie of tree (Sugar Maple, Linden, Hawthorn, etc). Not all trees can grow on the same location and not all trees reach the same size. A Hawthorn will be small and grows well only in open sunlight, it tends to be found on relatively young forests often on old fields abandoned in the past 40 years. A Sugar Maple can grow to a large size and can tolerate a lot of shade, especially when it is smaller, a sugar maple is an example of a latter successional forest (old forest) tree. The DBH (Diameter at 4.5’ from the ground), Height, and other information relative to the species of tree and the size. Recording the height and diameter of a tree that will eventually reach a very large size can be an indicator of how old the tree is, especially when compared to other trees in the stand. Health concerns such as form (a forked tree is more susceptible to ice damage) and if the tree a healthy tree (is it full of fungi and insects). General information on wildlife habitat, shrub species, forest regeneration (seedlings, saplings) are also collected.

How is this information being used? The information gathered is representative samples of all trees within Akwesasne. Since it is not possible to measure every tree, samples are measured. each tree that is inventoried is a sample that represents several trees. When enough samples are measured they will give an accurate picture of the forest composition in Akwesasne.

How will the samples be selected? On forest tracts that are included in the inventory random points will be selected with a grid pattern over an air photo. Forestry Personnel will then locate each point in the field and set a plot center, this is simply a temporary marker that is used to define the trees that are located within a set area. All trees within a specific distance of the plot center are then counted and measured. when all the trees are measured the next plot will be located and measured.

How is knowing what is in a forest going to be useful? Knowing what tree species are in Akwesasne is useful in several ways. Destructive insects like the EAB tend to focus on very specific trees, knowing how many Ash are in the area, a plan can be created to reduce the impact of EAB if it gets here. Other Insects like the Forest Tent Caterpillar and Gypsy moth are more common and cyclic in their outbreaks. Knowing where the maples (tent caterpillars) and Oaks (Gypsy moth) are can be useful in reducing the impact of these insects. Some weed species such as phragmites australis, purple loosestrife, and common buckthorn can cause ecologic damage (hence the term noxious weeds). Specific game species such as deer and turkey have specific nutritional requirements, forests that meet the needs of wildlife can be managed to increase the populations and offer more hunting opportunity.

Isn’t a forest inventory just for logging? A forest inventory is inventorying what is in a forest, its size, health, composition, age, etc. For a logging operation an inventory is used to calculate how much lumber and pulp (quantity) is in a forest to determine the market value of a stand, but an inventory is not specific to logging.

How can property owners benefit from knowing what is in their forest? The owners of forested tracts can benefit in multiple ways. If your property is inventoried a brief write up will be given to you including what is in your forest. Depending on what your goals are this can be used as a way to meet those goals. If you are interested in hunting, you can increase the quality of game habitat. If you are interested in firewood or timber, edible or medicinal plants or maple syrup production.

Instrument measures height of trees.

Forest Management is more than timber, knowing what trees are on their property, forest owners can encourage specific species to grow. Rare plants that have been over harvested can be encouraged to come back (such as ginseng). Encouraging specific trees to grow can also attract wildlife for esthetics as well as hunting opportunities, most wildlife have specific plants they prefer to eat. A forest that is managed for hunting opportunities will support populations much higher than a forest that is not managed.

If you have specific goals or would like more information, or have any forestry, forest health, or tree health questions. Please contact the Environment Office 518-358-5937.