Estimates of stem wood increments in forest resources: comparison of different approaches in forest inventory & consequences for international reporting

Quality and reliability of forest resource assessments depend on the ability of national forest inventories (NFIs) to supply necessary and high-quality data. Over the last decades and especially since the 1990s, the NFIs in European countries have been rapidly developing. Possibilities for obtaining reliable and accurate data on annual increment from different inventory types were evaluated, and sample-based inventories have been found to be superior to standwise inventories in providing reliable data. Simplified methods may be employed when increment cannot be directly estimated from inventory data.


An increasing intensity of forest resource use requires more accurate, detailed and reliable information, not only on forest area and growing stock but also on forest stand productivity, wood increment and its components. The main objectives were to assess the capacities of forest inventories, the methods used for estimation of gross increment and its components and their accuracy and to demonstrate an effective method for estimation of increment when direct inventory methods are not available. Data about national forest inventory methods were obtained from 30 responses to a questionnaire, distributed amongst national correspondents of all European countries; reports of COST Actions E43 and FP 1001, databases of Temperate and Boreal Forest Resource Assessment (TBFRA) 2000 and State of Europe’s Forests (SoEF) 2011 were used as well. Analysis and comparison of results from different forest inventories were used for evaluation of data reliability. Relationships between growing stock and gross increment in European forests were also analysed, and corresponding models were proposed. Seventy-nine percent of European forest area is covered by national forest inventories (NFIs) based on sampling methods and the rest on stand-level inventory and other inventory methods. Data obtained by aggregating standwise data usually underestimate growing stock by 15–20 % and gross increment even more. Almost half of the European forest area (47 %) is monitored using permanent plots, measured twice or more, allowing the estimation of gross increment and its components to be made directly. Implementation of NFIs based on sampling methods, especially with permanent plots, resulted in an improvement of data quality and in most cases an increase of growing stock and gross increment. The estimation of natural losses is the weakest link in today’s NFIs and in the current assessment of European forest resources. The proposed default values for gross increment and its components is an option to be used in countries not having NFI at all or those which have started it only recently.

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Kuliešis A, Tomter SM, Vidal C, Lanz A 2016. Estimates of stem wood increments in forest resources: comparison of different approaches in forest inventory: consequences for international reporting: case studyof European forests. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-13. 10.1007/s13595-016-0559-0.

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