Member Labs

New Forest Service Portfolio Brings Visual Data to Public and Forest Service Partner

New Forest Service Portfolio Brings Visual Data to Public and Forest Service Partner

The USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Database houses more than 19 million trees and countless more data that those trees reveal about U.S. forests. Now, with the development of the Forest Service’s new engagement portfolio, forest data can be displayed into maps, visual stories and more through various digitally developed tools and applications.

Thanks to the collaborative partnership work by the Forest Service; Esri, an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software; and others, the FIA engagement portfolio is already being utilized. Portfolio applications such as the Forest Atlas offer a more accessible mapped view of our nation’s FIA data to a broad spectrum of users—the public and the Forest Service’s industry and state partners.

“We have an obligation to leverage the public’s investment in the Forest Inventory and Analysis Database into its broadest possible applications,” said Charles (Hobie) Perry, a research soil scientist with the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and a lead scientist developing the new engagement portfolio. “We’re taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to make forest science accessible for a wide range of users and purposes.”

Perry and his colleagues, including Chris Oswalt, a research forester at the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, are using GIS and open-source tools to create a wide variety of graphic stories, stand-alone maps, online applications, and raw data delivery tools to meet the needs of a wider spectrum of users, including educators, natural resource managers, scientists, media and the public. “All of these products are designed to provide rich interactive experiences for the public, while simultaneously making the content available to other professionals,” Perry said.

Demos of the engagement portfolio are available at

“For nearly 90 years, Forest Inventory and Analysis has been the nation’s forest census,” said Tony Ferguson, acting director of the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. “We are making the investment in forest data an even greater asset by creating flexible tools that are based on sound science and meet the needs of a broad audience.”

The FIA engagement portfolio is still in development, but was recently featured during Perry and Oswalt’s keynote address at the FedGIS Conference hosted by Esri last month. To view the address, visit

An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery. For more information, visit

To view the original Forest Service – Northern Research Station article, click here.

Member Labs