Forest Vegetation

A biologist holds a magnifying glass close to a small plant and looks at it closely with one eye.
A biologist inspects a small plant.

NPS / Claire Hassler

Importance and Issues

Forests are the main vegetation of national parks in the National Capital Region Network (NCRN), making up about two-thirds of park land. These forests are part of the Eastern Deciduous Forest, which stretches from Florida to southern Canada, and extends as far west as Louisiana and Minnesota. Broad-leafed deciduous trees dominate these forests, but conifers (such as pines and hemlocks) are common in some areas too.

The Eastern Deciduous Forest was once about a million square miles, most of which has been logged or cultivated by humans. Remaining lands are often fragmented and have had some historic disturbance (forests regrown on farmed lands), or ongoing disturbance (periodic logging). In NCRN, forests are often surrounded by urban or suburban development or agricultural areas.

Jump to how we monitor forest vegetation.

Monitoring Questions and Approach

Detailed monitoring objectives from our protocol document are found here.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 1276. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 1303. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

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    Tags: ncrn forest

    How We Monitor

    In 2006, the National Capital Region Network began forest vegetation monitoring. More than 400 sites are spread across all NCRN parks. Field crews sample more than 100 forest plots each year from approximately May through September. The cycle repeats every four years.

    At each plot, field crews take the following measures:

    • Identify species of trees, shrubs, vines, and specific herbaceous plants
    • Tag and record individual trees and shrubs
    • Assess trees for canopy class and diameter
    • Note any evidence of deer browse on trees or shrubs
    • Count seedlings and record cover of herbaceous plants in 12 small quadrats
    • Record any presence of targeted invasive plants and targeted insect pests and pathogens
    • Measure coarse woody debris along three transects

    Last updated: October 18, 2022