USDA Forest Service

Forest Inventory and Analysis National Program


Forest Inventory & Analysis
National Office
U.S. Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-0003

(703) 605-4177

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Program Features


Forest Health Indicators


Ozone Crown Condition Soil Quality Lichen
Down Woody Materials Vegetation Tree Mortality Tree Growth


Down Woody Materials Indicator


The Down Woody Materials (DWM) Indicator is a set of variables collected on Phase 3 (forest health) FIA plots. The DWM Indicator is designed to estimate the biomass of forest ecosystem components not sampled during the FIA Phase 2 inventory. These biomass components include: coarse woody debris, fine woody debris, duff, litter, shrubs/herbs, slash piles, and fuelbed depths.

Why is the Down Woody Material Indicator Important?

The Down Woody Material (DWM) Indicator provides the only nationally consistent and extensive inventory of down woody biomass. DWM data can be used to explore important fire, wildlife, and carbon questions.

Forest fire managers and researchers may utilize the DWM indicator in numerous ways:

  • Assessment of forest fire risks for all regions of the U.S.
  • Estimation of fuel loadings by various forest attributes for the U.S.
  • Creation of national fuels maps
  • Monitoring effects of forest fuel reduction projects

Wildlife scientists and managers may use the DWM Indicator to assess wildlife habitat dynamics across the U.S., including:

  • Structure and amount of coarse woody debris in critical habitats
  • Assessment of coarse woody debris decay classes
  • Establishment of important relationships between forest types/past management actions and current levels of coarse woody debris

Carbon modelers may utilize the DWM Indicator data to:
  • Estimate down woody material and forest floor carbon pools
  • Monitor changes in critical carbon pools for the entire U.S.
  • Provide a carbon estimation framework and sampling protocol as identified by international agreements
The DWM Indicator not only serves as a data source for estimation and monitoring of down woody material biomass, but also serves as a broad indicator of forest health.

For more information about the Down Woody Materials Indicator visit our Down Woody Materials Indicator website or view the FIA Down Woody Materials Indicator Fact Sheet.

USDA Forest Service
Last Modified: January 26, 2005

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