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ACES Releases Inaugural Forest Health Index

Posted in Bulletin Board

Interactive data portal to serve as template for organizations around the globe.

Aspen, Colorado (May 21, 2014) — Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), a non-profit environmental science education center, today announced its first annual Forest Health Index. The web-based interactive data portal provides a comparative analysis of current and past conditions of the Roaring Fork Valley forests of western Colorado.

The ACES’ Forest Health Index will serve not only to educate the Roaring Fork Valley community, but it is hoped the model will be replicated and built upon in other communities around the world.

“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 ACES CEO Chris Lane. “Society takes for granted that forests provide a variety of ecosystem services critical to our well being. We hope the ACES Forest Health Index will serve to educate the public and provide a model with which to make the study of forest health a priority around the globe in the coming years.”

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. Often these indicators are intangible and difficult to measure, especially within systems as complex as a forest. The Forest Health Index is able to make sense of a wide range of interlinking environmental conditions by allowing users to explore over 20 climatic, ecological and socioeconomic indicators.

The Forest Health Index can easily be utilized in other forested communities to better identify potentially harmful environmental trends in ecosystem.

“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.”

The Forest Health Index is a project of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. ACES is partnering with the Aspen Global Change Institute to design the index, gather and analyze data, engage with stakeholders, and evaluate its scientific accuracy.

For more information about ACES Forest Health Index visit www.foresthealthindex.org. For more information about ACES For the Forest Program, please click here, or contact Jamie Cundiff, Forest Program Director, at 970-925-5756 and jcundiff@aspennature.org.


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