Research Natural Areas


[photo:] River in Grand Island RNA--Hiawatha NF. Photo by Lucy Tyrrell, USDA Froest Service.Research Natural Areas (RNAs) are areas that the Forest Service has designated to be permanently protected and maintained in natural condition. These protected natural areas include unique ecosystems or ecological features; rare or sensitive species of plants and animals and their habitat; and/or high-quality examples of widespread ecosystems.

More Information

  • About Research Natural Areas - there are more than 430 RNAs established nationally. The network of RNAs helps protect biological diversity at the genetic, species, ecosystem, and landscape scales.
  • Established Research Natural Areas - there are currently 73 established Research Natural Areas in the North Central and Northeastern states.
  • Candidate Research Natural Areas - in the Eastern Region, there are 34 areas identified as candidate or potential RNAs, which are in various stages of review for possible establishment.
  • Applying to use Research Natural Areas - researchers, managers, or individuals interested in conducting studies, or making observations in RNAs may download the application.

Featured Publication

Cover image of publication FS-503 - Preparing for the Future - Forest Service Research Areas

Preparing for the future: Forest Service Research Natural Areas

At the most basic level, RNAs help preserve our Nation's natural heritage for future generations. What we do not save today may soon be gone forever.

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Last Modified: August 20, 2021