Current issue: 54(3)
Growing demand for wood products, combined with efforts to conserve natural forests, have supported a steady increase in the global extent of planted forests. Here, a two-phase sampling strategy for large-scale assessment of the total area and the total wood volume of fast-growing forest tree crops within agricultural land is presented. The first phase is performed using tessellation stratified sampling on high-resolution remotely sensed imagery and is sufficient for estimating the total area of plantations by means of a Monte Carlo integration estimator. The second phase is performed using stratified sampling of the plantations selected in the first phase and is aimed at estimating total wood volume by means of an approximation of the first-phase Horvitz-Thompson estimator. Vegetation indices from Sentinel-2 are exploited as freely available auxiliary information in a linear regression estimator to improve the design-based precision of the estimator based on the sole sample data. Estimators of the totals and of the design-based variances of total estimators are presented. A simulation study is developed in order to check the design-based performance of the two alternative estimators under several artificial distributions supposed for poplar plantations (random, clustered, spatially trended). An application in Northern Italy is also reported. The regression estimator turns out to be invariably better than that based on the sole sample information. Possible integrations of the proposed sampling scheme with conventional national forest inventories adopting tessellation stratified sampling in the first phase are discussed.