(by William E. Zipse)
There are a number of useful software tools that are freely available for use in day to day forestry work. The Northeast Decision Model (NED) produced by the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, is one of these tools. NED includes tools for forest management planning and the analysis of forest inventory data such as inventory processing and reporting, growth and yield models, wildlife models and more. The cutting edge version of NED is NED-3 which looks promising with a host of improvements and new features such as the ability for the user to specify board foot volume equations or even use their own volume tables. NED-3 also offers better incorporation of existing USDA Forest Service models such as the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) and the venerable SILVAH model. Although NED-3 is cutting edge, keep in mind that it is still in beta and may yet have a number of bugs. So, if you are really curious about the newest version of NED and would like to test out some of its features, it is worth the download. However, it is not a good idea to use software that is in beta for production. If you are inclined to use NED for day-to-day work, NED-2 is that latest stable release of NED and may be the better choice for production, having been in service for a number of years.