Landsat TM satellite data covering an approximate 5-year interval (1990–1995) were used to quantify spatial pattern and transition rates between forest ecological states for a 2.76 million ha region in northeast Minnesota. Changes in forest cover were stratified by Ecological Subsection, management status, and by ownership categories using a 1995 digital ownership layer. Approximately 4.2% of the 1990 mature forested area was converted to early successional types by 1995. Of this 4.2%, private lands accounted for 33%, federal lands 31%, county lands 20% and state lands 16%. Notable conversion percentages by cover type category were spruce-fir (−5.3%), aspen-birch(−4.7%), jack pine (−4.6%) and black spruce(−3.0%). Transition rates were also adjusted to fit ten-year time intervals. Shannon-Weaver Eveness and edge density of cover types increased over the study period as relative contagion and interior forest area decreased. These trends suggest both smaller patches and a more even distribution of cover types. Area of upland conifers, lowland conifers and lowland hardwoods decreased while the area of mature upland hardwoods increased in most patch size classes except the > 500 ha class which showed a substantial decrease in area. The area of early successional types increased in most patch size classes. Non-industrial private forestland had the lowest proportion of interior forest of all ownership categories -decreasing by 13.5% in five years. Smaller average cut-unit size sand uncoordinated forest management is the likely cause since cutting rates between private and public forestland were similar.
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