Post-Fire Forest Monitoring and Assessment

TBC3 research affiliates have pulled together guidance, fire severity maps, and field assessment and monitoring protocols to support the research and conservation community. We recommend you compare and contrast the post-fire field protocols offered here, to select the sampling framework appropriate for your questions and available resources. These resources are provided to advance the adoption of standard metrics to allow comparison across the fire impacted regions, and to help inform remote sensing assessments of burn severity with field-based assessments.

General Post Fire Guidance

Post-fire Guidance: Summary of TBC3 Forest Working Group Sept 2020 Workshop

A brief discussion and bulleted list of key metrics and assessment questions for fire impacted wild lands for immediate and longer term consideration.

Workshop Notes

Pepperwood’s Garrison Canyon post-Kincade Fire in 2019. Photo Courtesy of Ian A. Nelson

ALERTWildlfire camera at Pepperwood. Photo Courtesy of Gerald & Buff Corsi

2020 Lightning Complex and Glass fires

Fire Severity Maps

Burn severity mapping using pre- and post-fire Sentinel-2 satellite imagery, estimated using the Relativized Burn Ratio (RBR) methods (see Parks et al., 2014). GIS layer packages are available below.

2020 LNU Lightning Complex   2020 Glass Fire 

To help us understand research needs and report to our funders, please take a moment to let us know how you plan to use the data at:

Rapid Fire Impact Field Methods

Fire Impacts on Forest Ecology – Pepperwood

These point-based methods were developed by Pepperwood staff scientists based on USDI NPS fire monitoring methods (2003, see link below) combined with rapid forest inventory metrics (Cottam et al. 1953) to measure impacts of the 2017 LNU Complex fires at Pepperwood and on partner lands. At Pepperwood we used these to compare fire impacts in thinned (Douglas-fir removal) vs. un-thinned sites. View and download the field protocols and data sheets.

Fire Impacts on Forest Ecology – Ackerly Lab

These methods evaluate similar metrics to the Pepperwood protocols above, but are designed to be applied at the plot scale rather than as point measurements. View and download the field protocols, and data sheet.

Multiple Vegetation Types – Derek Young and Andrew Latimer, UC Davis

This protocol is for rapid vegetation surveys after wildfire in multiple Coast Range vegetation types including grassland, oak woodland, and shrubland/chaparral. The document provides a menu of observations that can be made immediately after fire to measure severity of fire effects on the soil surface as well as on vegetation, plus a characterization of fuel loads. It also includes a set of observations that can be taken later, in a separate survey, after seeds germinate and surviving woody plants begin to resprout (though some of these protocols for vegetation regrowth are still under development). View and download field protocols, a vegetation survey data sheet, and a tree damage data sheet.

Pepperwood's Natural Resource Specialist, Devyn Friedfel, measuring DBH for Pepperwood's forest monitoring.

Long-Term Forest Monitoring

Pepperwood Forest Monitoring Plan

This is a comprehensive long-term monitoring plan (e.g., vegetation, wildlife, with climate sensors co-located) that incorporates Pepperwood’s most updated pre/post forest thinning and pre/post fire monitoring methods (see prescribed fire section pg 51-54) prepared pursuant the CDFW Prop 1 “Multi-benefit Restoration of Coast Range Headwaters Post-fire” project. This monitoring plan was designed to provide comparable data to the Ackerly Lab’s field methods applied at Pepperwood (described above) as well as the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis program.

Forest Monitoring Plan


Rapid point-based forest assessments (point-centered quarter method)

Cottam, G., J. T. Curtis, and B. Wilde Hale. 1953. Some sampling characteristics of a population of randomly dispersed individuals. Ecology 34(4):741–757. 

Mitchell, K.  2015. Quantitative Analysis by the Point-Centered Quarter Method. Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Hobart and William Smith Colleges Geneva, NY.

Resources & Related Publications

National Park Service Fire Monitoring Handbook (found here) – TBC3 and Pepperwood affiliates developed resources here by customizing (as needed) standard metrics and approaches from the USDI National Park Service Fire Monitoring Handbook (2003). Boise (ID): Fire Management Program Center, National Interagency Fire Center. 274pp.

Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network –  FAC works with communities across the nation to create a more wildfire-resilient future. A “fire adapted community” consists of informed and prepared residents collaboratively planning and taking action to safely co-exist with wildland fire. They have an excellent blog, found here.

FIREMON – Fire effects monitoring and inventory protocol is an agency independent plot level sampling system designed to characterize changes in ecosystem attributes over time. Learn more about this system here. 

Effects of topoclimatic complexity on the composition of woody plant communities (Oldfather et al 2016).

Mortality and Resprouting in California Oak Woodlands Following Mixed-Severity Wildfire (Ackerly et al 2019).