Annual volume increment of the European forests—description and evaluation of the national methods used

In order to obtain the necessary information for decision making etc., it is of increasing importance to be able to assess increment in a reliable way. Only repeated measurements on permanent sample plots in national forest inventories can provide accurate and comprehensive information on the various components of annual increment. Such inventory systems are increasingly employed in European countries. The felling/increment ratio, characterizing wood use sustainability, should be expressed as the ratio of felled living trees (excluding dead trees) and net increment.


Reporting of gross and net annual increment is an element of international forest resource assessments and crucial for sustainable forest management. A number of approaches exist for the estimation of increment and its various sub-components. The main objectives of the study are to assess in detail what methods European countries have used and are planning to use in the future for international reporting of increment. Also, the usefulness of the various approaches for the assessment of increment is evaluated. A questionnaire asking about their assessment methods was distributed among the UNECE/FAO national correspondents of all European countries and members of the UNECE/FAO Team of Specialists on Monitoring Sustainable Forest Management. Databases of the Temperate and Boreal Forest Resource Assessment 2000 and of the State of Europe’s Forests 2011 were also used. Furthermore, the methodological background was described on the basis of relevant literature sources and some examples for country groups presented. Countries have indicated what methods they used for assessment of various increment components, and the percentage of countries, forest area, and growing stock corresponding to these replies has been calculated. With regard to gross annual increment, these metrics represent about one third for inventories based on permanent sample plots, but this percentage is on the increase. The concept of the “control method” for forest management was developed more than 100 years ago but only utilized at the local level. The same methodology is now widely used at the national and regional level due to the implementation of modern national forest inventories using permanent sample plots. Care should be taken to utilize the data correctly for international forest resource assessments, in order to, e.g., avoid double counting of dead trees.

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Tomter SM, Kuliešis A, Gschwantner T 2016. Annual volume increment of the European forests—description and evaluation of the national methods used. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-8. 10.1007/s13595-016-0557-2.

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