What We Do

Two employees smiling in front of a blooming rainforest plant
Rainforest monitoring in Hawai'i

NPS photo


Natural resource inventories are surveys to learn about the location and condition of natural resources such as plants and animals, air, water, soils, and geology. These inventories help establish a baseline, and create a point of reference and comparison for the monitoring that follows. Learn more about inventories.


Each network identifies a set of ecological "vital signs" to monitor. Just as a doctor monitors our vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, or temperature) to get a picture of our overall health, ecological vital signs are a small set of resources selected to help us understand the overall health and condition of a park's resources. Learn more about monitoring.


Parks across the country have been grouped into 32 I&M 'networks,' which have been set up based on similarities in geography and natural resources. Parks within each of the networks work together, along with Inventory and Monitoring Division staff, to plan and conduct inventory projects and long-term monitoring in parks. View a map of the 32 networks and the parks in each network.

Park ranger holding a newly-hatched loggerhead turtle
Park scientists help ensure that hatchling loggerhead turtles make it to the Gulf of Mexico.

NPS photo


The results of inventory and monitoring are used by parks for planning, research, education, and to help guide decisions related to park management. Results are also shared widely with other agencies, researchers, and scientists. Learn more about reports and publications.

As we look to the future, all parks will be facing more complex and challenging natural resource issues. The information collected by Inventory and Monitoring Division scientists will help with the early detection of ecological changes—which is what parks need to know in order to manage, preserve, and protect our natural heritage for future generations.

Last updated: December 26, 2017