There are many levels of complexity to forest inventory -- from the US Forest Service estimating the condition of the forests of the United States to measuring a few logs.
TIGER for Woodlands and Compartments (TIGER WC) was developed to analyze data for small inventories on areas from about 1 to 100 acres in size. TIGER WC can be used to estimate the timber volume and value of the woodland as it is or as if it had been thinned (had trees removed). It will also simulate the growth of the forest (thinned or not) for 20 years and use those values to estimate the volume and value of the forest in the future.
A reasonably capable individual with an interest in doing forest inventory can study how to do an inventory in books and at web sites dealing with forestry and obtain a good understanding of how an inventory is done. The manual that accompanies the TIGER WC program has a 12 page section on the basics of doing an inventory and lists some web sites that can be useful for learning about forest inventory. To download a copy of the section of the manual dealing with how to do an inventory, click here.
Forest inventory is taught at some forestry field days that conducted in many states. Most foresters and forest consultants get hands on experience under the supervision of professional foresters while they learn how to do forest inventory. We strongly believe that anyone who wants to do a forest inventory should have some hands on training with a professional forester.
We encourage anyone who wants to do a forest inventory, but is not a trained forester, to seek some professional training before doing an inventory. This could be done by forestry consultants, extension foresters, or state and district foresters. Groups of individuals interested in using TIGER WC could ask state foresters to put on field days about inventory or contact a forestry consultant for help.