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Comparison of methods used in European National Forest Inventories for the estimation of volume increment: towards harmonisation

Thomas Gschwantner, Adrian Lanz, Claude Vidal, Michal Bosela, Lucio Di Cosmo, Jonas Fridman, Patrizia Gasparini, Andrius Kuliešis, Stein Tomter, Klemens Schadauer

Key message. The increment estimation methods of European NFIs were explored by means of 12 essential NFI features. The results indicate various differences among NFIs within the commonly acknowledged methodological frame. The perspectives for harmonisation at the European level are promising.

Context. The estimation of increment is implemented differently in European National Forest Inventories (NFIs) due to different historical origins of NFIs and sampling designs and field assessments accommodated to country-specific conditions. The aspired harmonisation of increment estimation requires a comparison and an analysis of NFI methods.

Aims. The objective was to investigate the differences in volume increment estimation methods used in European NFIs. The conducted work shall set a basis for harmonisation at the European level which is needed to improve information on forest resources for various strategic processes.

Methods. A comprehensive enquiry was conducted during Cost Action FP1001 to explore the methods of increment estimation of 29 European NFIs. The enquiry built upon the preceding Cost Action E43 and was complemented by an analysis of literature to demonstrate the methodological backgrounds.

Results. The comparison of methods revealed differences concerning the NFI features such as sampling grids, periodicity of assessments, permanent and temporary plots, use of remote sensing, sample tree selection, components of forest growth, forest area changes, sampling thresholds, field measurements, drain assessment, involved models and tree parts included in estimates.

Conclusion. Increment estimation methods differ considerably among European NFIs. Their harmonisation introduces new issues into the harmonisation process. Recent accomplishments and the increased use of sample-based inventories in Europe make perspectives for harmonised reporting of increment estimation promising.

Annals of Forest Science, Vol. 73, No. 4. (2016), pp. 807-821, 
Key: INRMM:14463394



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