Assessing relatedness and redundancy of forest monitoring and change indicators.
Information on changes in forest structure and composition is required for informed, adaptive management and conservation. As the collection of such information requires field studies that are expensive, difficult, and time consuming, the prioritization of metrics can be of significant value. This study evaluates a number of metrics used to assess changes in forest structure and composition for a set of 59 forests in five countries e Kenya, India, Nepal, Uganda and USA. Changes in tree density are significantly positively correlated with changes in species richness, and changes in sapling/shrub density are significantly positively correlated with changes in species richness. Thus, rapid assessments of tree density change can be used to prioritize locations where there may be rapid deterioration in tree diversity, where the collection of detailed information on changes in species composition may be prioritized. Changes in tree density do not reflect changes in shrub and sapling density. The shrub and sapling layer appears to respond differently to human or natural disturbances compared to the tree layer, and may require separate assessment. Changes in tree DBH and tree height are not completely congruent, indicating that measurements of DBH and height may be required to accurately estimate changes in above ground carbon storage over time, for programs such as REDD that provide payment for carbon sequestration services.