Fire Effects Monitoring

The fire monitoring program gathers data and information that is needed for fire management planning and activities. Monitoring is a key element in the framework of adaptive management.

Adaptive management identifies uncertainties that are associated with management actions, and then establishes methodologies to test hypotheses that are generated by those uncertainties. Management actions are used not only to achieve desired future landscape conditions, but also as a tool for the generation of knowledge about those systems. The adaptive management process may be portrayed in an eight-step cycle. Successful adaptive management requires managers to complete all of the successive steps.

Fire Ecology Resources

Adaptive Management Cycle

Fire Monitoring Protocols

Choosing and implementing the appropriate monitoring protocols is a critical step in the execution of a fire monitoring program. The NPS Fire Monitoring Handbook (FMH; 2003) is intended to facilitate and standardize monitoring where appropriate for NPS units that are subject to burning by wildland or prescribed fire. There are many benefits to establishing standardized data collection procedures. Uniformly-gathered data will facilitate information exchange among parks and provide historical program documentation and databases useful for refinements of the parks' fire management programs. Depending on a park's management objectives, a park may need a specific monitoring design beyond or instead of the design covered in the handbook. References to different monitoring procedures are provided in the handbook appendices.

  • Fire Monitoring HandbookFire Monitoring Handbook (3.47 MB)

    This handbook defines and establishes levels of monitoring activity relative to fire and resource management objectives and fire management strategies.

  • FFI (FEAT / FIREMON Integrated)

    FFI is a monitoring software tool designed to assist managers with collection, storage and analysis of ecological information. This database management system was developed to support immediate and long-term monitoring and reporting of fire effects and its use encourages cooperative, interagency information sharing.

  • Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity

    The Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project addresses the need to quantify fire effects over large, often-remote regions and long time intervals. It reflects collaborative efforts to bring previous research into operational implementation for fire managers and scientists.

  • The Composite Burn Index (CBI) Photo Series

    The Composite Burn Index (CBI) Photo Series uses CBI plot data and photos to illustrate the range of burn severity encountered in different ecosystems of the U.S.


    The Fire Effects Monitoring and Inventory Protocol for the USDA Forest Service.

  • Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations (5.12 MB)

    Interagency technical monitoring reference.