The Resources Planning Act, as amended by the National Forest Management Act, the Resources Conservation Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, all require periodic assessments and appraisals of the renewable resource situation and the development of action plans to accomplish efficient and effective resource management. These assessments and appraisals occur at 5-10 year intervals. They require continuous updating of the renewable resource situations obtained through inventory of which remote sensing must play a significant role.

Generally, information requirements for renewable resource assessments include: (1) area, extent, geographic location, and structure of vegetation types; (2) ecological successional stages of the vegetation types keyed to potential natural vegetation; (3) kind of substrate of the vegetation types in relation to soils and topography to assist in evaluation of resource management options; (4) kinds, amounts, extent, and duration of water bodies, i.e. size of lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds; duration of flow including peak flows; and water quality for commercial, industrial, and recreational activities; and (5) faunal populations.

Information needs may be further categorized as to measured, observed, calculated, or assigned. Measurements include mapping and actual measurement of information items such as tree height, shrub cover, lake area, or vegetation type area. Observed items are the presence or absence of something such as structures or landslides. Both measured and observed items are amenable to remote sensing. Calculated items include such determinations as timber volume and grazing capacity toward which measurements contribute. Assigned information needs include such items as land ownership, political boundaries, management areas. Assigned information must be obtained from sources other than remote sensing.

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