Sustainability and Fiber Supply

Small Area Estimation Techniques

Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data are essential for providing information about forest resources of the United States. The FIA program includes not only forest inventory data collected from field plots, but production data collected from mill surveys as part of the Timber Products Output (TPO) program.

Due to the nature of the national FIA sample and TPO data collection procedure, estimates derived from these programs are most accurate for larger geographic units that result in larger samples. When high levels of categorical specificity (e.g., age classes, forest types, ownership) are needed, the geographical area required to yield a sufficient sample size can become quite large.

Thus, additional tools and techniques are needed to fuse FIA plot data and TPO data with other forest-related geospatial data to improve the precision of estimates and the spatial detail of information. A multi-year cost-shared research project by NCASI and USFS FIA will improve our ability to develop estimates for small (county or multi-county) regions and to improve the spatial detail of inventory information.