Welcome to the Virtual Cruiser Vest!

This online learning module will teach you the basic principles of taking an inventory of your forest.  This module includes ten lessons with video clips, diagrams, and exercises to help you get started. Through the course of these lessons, you will learn how to identify individual stands on your property, the basics of plot sampling, how to establish an inventory plot, and how to measure individual trees. You will then learn how to work with your inventory data in a computer program called the Landscape Management System (LMS).

Why learn about forest inventory?

An inventory is a cornerstone of forest stewardship planning and ensures that your forest is healthy, productive, and meets your objectives as a landowner for years to come. After all, in order to assess the needs of your forest and plan for the future, you have to know what you have! A forest inventory will help you quantify what you have and identify needs and opportunities for forest health, wildlife habitat, timber production, aesthetics, and carbon storage. An inventory will give you insights into species composition, tree density, basal area, and volume, and it will help you document growth and change in your forest over time.

Designed for use with computer software

This web module is designed to help you gather inventory data for use with a free (public domain) software program known as the Landscape Management System (LMS). LMS is a unique and innovative program that will allow you to generate representative images of your forest, predict how your forest will grow and change over time, and allow you to experiment with different management alternatives. For instance, you will be able to model the effects of different types of thinning right after treatment, as well as 5, 10, or 20 years in the future or beyond. You will be able to assess outcomes relative to volume, revenue, wildlife habitat, fire risk, carbon sequestration, and more. Outputs include tables, charts, and realistic images of your forest, giving you powerful communication tools to share your objectives and outcomes with family members, co-owners, or other stakeholders. LMS allows you to examine the possibilities without putting your forest at risk—if you do not like an outcome, you can “put the trees back on the stump” and explore other alternatives.

One approach to inventory

There are many different methods to doing forest inventory, with different applications, required skill levels, and regional variations. This web module presents one approach to forest inventory that is designed specifically to:

  • Be relatively easy to implement
  • Be broadly applicable across different geographic regions
  • Get you up and running with the LMS program

This approach will not be appropriate for all applications. For instance, this module is not intended to teach you how to do a professional-quality timber cruise for the purposes of appraisal, preparing a timber sale, or similar application for which much tighter sampling protocols are required. Rather, these lessons are intended as a stewardship planning tool for you as a landowner. You will be able to collect powerful and useful data about your forest, but it is not a substitute for the services of your local forestry professional if you have more advanced needs. If you do need to hire a professional, this module may still be useful in that it can help you to better understand and communicate the principles that a professional forester will be applying when working on your property.

Ready to get started?

To get started, visit the Using This Module section to see how this learning module is organized and get tips and hints for how to get the most out of this module.

Logos ©2004-2010 National Learning Center for Private Forest and Range Landowners. Last updated 04/01/2008. Disclaimer . USDA Non-Discrimination Statement "A program of the Cooperative Extension Service funded by the Renewable Resources Extension Act". The Virtual Cruiser Vest learning module was created and developed by corresponding author Kevin Zobrist, Washington State University Extension Forester. Partial Design by Free CSS Templates.