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Standardisation of Forest Resource Inventory (FRI) Data

Digital Forest Resource Inventory (FRI) data are the single most important tool in Canadian forest management planning. These are high-resolution maps produced from the interpretation of aerial photography, collected by industries and governments.  FRI data provide greater thematic precision than can be obtained from any routinely-available satellite data. Information included in forest resource inventories include: canopy heights measured directly from the stereo photography; estimated ages; details of canopy-species composition; detailed information on forested habitats; and disturbance history.

These data have been used to model avian habitat selection and abundance in many studies in the Canadian boreal forest region. Importantly, they offer the ability to link management actions to ecological indicators such as the predictions of BAM models. They also potentially allow such models to account for past effects of management actions on birds.

However, details of inventories differ markedly across Canada. Each province, territory and National Park has their own standard(s), some of which have changed over time. These inter-regional differences have prevented the large-scale application of FRI data to habitat modelling at a national scale.

To facilitate national modelling studies addressing the effects of forest management on forest songbirds, BAM undertook a significant effort to assemble and standardise all Canadian digital Forest Resource Inventory data. This exciting and challenging technical advance will enable more detailed habitat analyses that are comparable among jurisdictions, and are more relevant to avian ecology.

We first acquired copies of almost all extant digital inventories from Provincial  and Territorial Governments, Federal departments, and many forest tenure holders in Alberta and Manitoba. The area of data coverage was extended to the hemi-boreal forests of the Atlantic provinces in spring 2012. The current extent of our holdings is shown in the figure below. This coverage is essentially complete for Canada, except for a small number of forest products firms who have chosen not to contribute their private data.  No other significant areas of FRI exist or are likely to become available in the foreseeable future.

We developed a protocol for standardising key inventory attributes across source data sets of differing standards, without loss of information. This protocol standard is known as the Common Attribute Schema (for Forest Resource Inventory) or CASFRI and is posted on the BAM Resources page (Cosco 2011 ).

An ancillary component of the standard is a table of all tree species and cover types that are recognized in Canadian inventories. A complex suite of computer scripts implements the translation from raw data to the CASFRI standard. The resulting tables, representing more than 25,000,000 polygons, are stored in PostGIS, an open source Geographic Information System designed for large data sets and the integration of raster and vectorial data.



Current coverage of Forest Resource Inventory (FRI) data compiled under the CASFRI system for use in BAM modelling.