Highlights: Using NFI plots in forest management inventories could provide a way for rationalising forest inventory data acquisition; NFI plots were used as additional reference data in laser scanning and aerial image based forest inventory; NFI plots improved the estimates of some forest variables; There are differences between the two inventory types that cause difficulties in combining the data.
In Finland, there are currently two, parallel sample-plot-based forest inventory systems, which differ in their methodologies, sampling designs, and objectives. One is the National Forest Inventory (NFI), aimed at unbiased inventory results at national and regional level. The other is the Forest Centre’s management-oriented forest inventory based on interpretation of airborne laser scanning and aerial images, with the aim of locally accurate stand-level forest estimates. The National Forest Inventory utilises relascope sample plots with systematic cluster sampling. This inventory method is optimised for accuracy of regional volume estimates. In contrast, the management-oriented forest inventory utilises circular sample plots with an allocation system covering certain pre-defined forest classes in the inventory area. This method is optimised to produce reference data for interpretation of the remote-sensing materials in use. In this study, we tested the feasibility of the National Forest Inventory sample plots in provision of additional reference data for the management-oriented inventory. Various combinations of NFI plots and management inventory plots were tested in the interpretation of the laser and aerial-image data. Adding NFI plots in the reference data generally improved the accuracy of the volume estimates by tree species but not the estimates of total volume or stand mean height and diameter. The difference between the plot types in the NFI and management inventories causes difficulties in combination of the two datasets.