functions; build on private-sector strengths in information transfer, especially private consultants and industrial forestry information programs; encourage development of continuing-education opportunities for professional managers of natural resources and provide incentives for participation in programs offered by such centers (for example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Training and Education Center); substantially increase the funding of information-transfer programs; and aggressively incorporate technology-transfer components into research projects focused on nonfederal forests. In addition, partnerships and incentives that encourage cooperative efforts, outreach, and expansion of technology-transfer programs to a broader clientele—including newly emerging clientele groups such as Native American and urban forestry—should be cultivated.
Management of the nation's nonfederal forests requires relevant and readily available information. Two invaluable methods to provide information are assessment and monitoring systems that gather information about the status of resources and the programs devoted to them, and information-management systems that enable information to be easily shared across regions, ownerships, and administrative units. The forestry community has a rich history of assessment and inventory activities that guide policy and program activities. These activities have served the nation well; however, they are in continual need of refinement because of the demand for different types of information, demand for timely information, and demand for accurate information. Refinement is needed as the nation becomes more sensitive to the importance of diversity in the structure of forest ecosystems and to the cumulative effects of management activities in large ecosystems that involve many different types of nonfederal-forest owners.
Federal and state governments and some nonprofit organizations (for example, the Nature Conservancy) have engaged in developing complex assessment and monitoring systems that evaluate the status of forest resources and the progress in implementing programs on them. One of the most widely acknowledged assessment programs is the Forest Inventory and Analysis program authorized by the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974. Other examples are the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water Quality Assessment Program; the National Biological Survey Gap Analysis Program; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program; and the National Forest Health Monitoring Program which was begun in 1990 and involves a variety of public and private cooperators. In addition, various monitoring programs provide resource users and managers with information needed to focus, discard, or expand programs. An