Starting in 2005, F4 Tech completed the mapping/stratification of natural vegetation and related features for Eglin. A comprehensive, stand-based forest and resource field inventory was also conducted on the majority of the 450,000 acres and is being maintained to this day with additional plots (latest update in 2018 almost completed with an additional over 17,000 plots) and analyses. High-resolution, 4-band photography was used to fix stand boundaries and label GIS attributes. Field data collected included tree attributes as well as those for groundcover and understory species. The primary purpose of the inventory is to provide information for the management of the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW).
All Eglin Air Force (EAF) forested lands were mapped in a GIS database. After mapping, standards were developed (minimum and maximum polygon sizes by type and dealing with multipart stands), the digitizing process and priorities were outlined. These included reviewing the boundary lines with current, high-resolution imagery, noting any discrepancies including shifts. Stands were primarily determined by forest cover in broad types such as Natural Pine, Planted Pine, Pine/Hardwood, Upland Hardwood and Bottomland Hardwood. Developed areas (campsites, parking lots, tactical areas, buildings, roads and water) were accurately determined and eliminated from the stands layer. Forested stands were then mapped and attributed with the following, after careful imagery analysis and ground checking, Society of American Foresters (SAF) Forest Cover Type Development Class (age classes) and Stand Density Class (crown closure).
The endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) habitat management has been greatly enhanced by this ongoing effort. Revenues are also more steady and predictable than before with greater detail within manager’s reach. The strategic planning process is providing even greater level of certainty and clarity to the management of these critical ecosystems.
Project status: Ongoing forest inventory and analytics support, strategic planning.