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Towards the harmonization between National Forest Inventory and Forest Condition Monitoring. Consistency of plot allocation and effect of tree selection methods on sample statistics in Italy



Towards the harmonization between National Forest Inventory and Forest Condition Monitoring. Consistency of plot allocation and effect of tree selection methods on sample statistics in Italy



Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 185(7): 6155-6171



In the frame of a process aiming at harmonizing National Forest Inventory (NFI) and ICP Forests Level I Forest Condition Monitoring (FCM) in Italy, we investigated (a) the long-term consistency between FCM sample points (a subsample of the first NFI, 1985, NFI_1) and recent forest area estimates (after the second NFI, 2005, NFI_2) and (b) the effect of tree selection method (tree-based or plot-based) on sample composition and defoliation statistics. The two investigations were carried out on 261 and 252 FCM sites, respectively. Results show that some individual forest categories (larch and stone pine, Norway spruce, other coniferous, beech, temperate oaks and cork oak forests) are over-represented and others (hornbeam and hophornbeam, other deciduous broadleaved and holm oak forests) are under-represented in the FCM sample. This is probably due to a change in forest cover, which has increased by 1,559,200 ha from 1985 to 2005. In case of shift from a tree-based to a plot-based selection method, 3,130 (46.7%) of the original 6,703 sample trees will be abandoned, and 1,473 new trees will be selected. The balance between exclusion of former sample trees and inclusion of new ones will be particularly unfavourable for conifers (with only 16.4% of excluded trees replaced by new ones) and less for deciduous broadleaves (with 63.5% of excluded trees replaced). The total number of tree species surveyed will not be impacted, while the number of trees per species will, and the resulting (plot-based) sample composition will have a much larger frequency of deciduous broadleaved trees. The newly selected trees have-in general-smaller diameter at breast height (DBH) and defoliation scores. Given the larger rate of turnover, the deciduous broadleaved part of the sample will be more impacted. Our results suggest that both a revision of FCM network to account for forest area change and a plot-based approach to permit statistical inference and avoid bias in the tree sample composition in terms of DBH (and likely age and structure) are desirable in Italy. As the adoption of a plot-based approach will keep a large share of the trees formerly selected, direct tree-by-tree comparison will remain possible, thus limiting the impact on the time series comparability. In addition, the plot-based design will favour the integration with NFI_2.

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Accession: 056620002

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 23224704

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-012-3014-1


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