Aspen center hopes other communities use its new Forest Health Index | SummitDaily.com

Aspen center hopes other communities use its new Forest Health Index

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a nonprofit environmental science education center, recently unveiled its first annual Forest Health Index.

The Web-based interactive data portal provides a comparative analysis of current and past conditions of forests in the Roaring Fork Valley of western Colorado.

The center hopes its forest health model will be replicated and built upon in other communities around the world to promote resilient, thriving forests.

“Adequately understanding and responding to the changes our forests have undergone in the last few decades will be a critical challenge for conservation and resource management,” said CEO Chris Lane.

The index defines a healthy forest as one that maintains its ecological integrity, is safe for public use, performs numerous ecosystem services and is sustainably used and managed. “FHI Scores” reveal up-to-date information on the health of forests by scoring their health on a one to 100 point system.

The Forest Health Index is able to make sense of a wide range of interlinking environmental conditions by allowing users to explore more than 20 climatic, ecological and socioeconomic indicators.

According to the center, the index can easily be utilized in other forested communities to better identify potentially harmful environmental trends.

“By providing a consistent method to measure any departures from normal conditions relevant to forest health, we hope that adoption of the Forest Health Index in other areas of the globe will generate greater discussion around the subject,” said Lane. “If successful, the broader adoption can create greater forest resiliency, improved wildlife habitats and reduce wildfire danger.”

For more information about the Forest Health Index, visit foresthealthindex.org.


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