top of page

Field Protocols

We have developed four different field sampling protocols for assessing and describing old-growth forests by citizen scientists.  These protocols vary from basic to advanced and should be selected based on the level of experience of the citizen scientists that will be conducting the old-growth forest surveys.

Level 1: Basic

This protocol can be used by those who are learning how to identify tree species. No approved field leader is required for this protocol.


Areas where this protocol will be used are usually easy to access and somewhat quick to sample.


Old-growth trees are to be identified, measured, photographed and geo-located, along with other site observations and descriptions.

Data can be gathered through iNaturalist or sent directly to AFER via email to:

Level 2: Intermediate

This rapid assessment is designed to cover large areas of old-growth forest in a relatively short period of time with minimal technical expertise.

In addition to the components of the Basic - Level 1 Protocol, the Intermediate Protocol incorporates area-based sampling for trees meeting the minimum size for the species and transect location selected to sample the variety of slope positions, slope aspects and slope steepness.  This protocol requires an approved AFER field leader.

Level 3: Advanced

Relative to Levels 1 and 2, this protocol requires more time-intensive plot- and transect-based sampling and expertise.


Results from the application of this protocol will support scientific descriptions of old-growth forests at the level of professional technical reports and refereed journals.


This protocol requires an approved AFER field leader - we will assist those interested in becoming an approved Level 3 field leader.

Level 4: Expert

This level is reserved for the most significant old growth forests AFER measures and identifies with the greatest potential for protection.

In this final protocol level, the OMNRF Ecological Land Classification (ELC) methodology has been adapted for the purposes of this project.

ELC-certified ecologists will conduct site assessments in these pre-selected old-growth forest stands which volunteers will be welcome to participate in.

bottom of page