Use of uncertain inventory data in forestry scenario models and consequential incorrect harvest decisions
Uncertainty in long-term timber production analyses usually focus success of regeneration, growth/mortality of trees and future fluctuations of timber prices/harvest costs, while uncertainty related to inventory data is paid less attention. At the same time, evaluations of inventory methods usually stop when the error level is stated, while the uncertainty accompanied by using the data is seldom considered. The present work addresses uncertain inventory data in long-term timber production analyses. Final harvest decisions, i.e. possible outcome intervals with respect to timing and expected net present value-losses due to incorrect timing, were considered. A case study was presented where inventory data errors according to different error levels were generated randomly. The selected error levels were based on observations from practical forest inventories in Norway. The analysis tool was GAYA-JLP. The impact of errors on decisions was derived through repeated computations of management strategies maximising net present value without harvest path constraints. A real rate of discount of 3% and an error level of 15% resulted in expected net present value-losses of 1 NOK ha–1 for basal area, 63 NOK ha–1 for mean height, 210 NOK ha–1 for site quality, 240 NOK ha–1 for stand age, and 499 NOK ha–1 when random errors occurred simultaneously for all these variables. The expected net present value-losses varied considerably. The largest losses appeared for stands with ages around optimal economical rotation ages. The losses were also relatively large for young stands, while they were relatively low for overmature stands. The experiences from the case study along with considerations related to other sources of uncertainty may help us to get a more realistic attitude to the reliability of long-term timber production analyses. The results of the study may also serve as a starting point in a decision oriented inventory planning concept, in which alternatives for inventory design and intensity are based on considerations with respect to inventory costs as well as net present value-losses.
Received 1 October 1999 Accepted 14 February 2000 Published 31 December 2000