Current issue: 56(2)
Under compilation: 56(3)
Forest management inventories assisted by airborne laser scanner data rely on predictive models traditionally constructed and applied based on data from the same area of interest. However, forest attributes can also be predicted using models constructed with data external to where the model is applied, both temporal and geographically. When external models are used, many factors influence the predictions’ accuracy and may cause systematic errors. In this study, volume, stem number, and dominant height were estimated using external model predictions calibrated using a reduced number of up-to-date local field plots or using predictions from reparametrized models. We assessed and compared the performance of three different calibration approaches for both temporally and spatially external models. Each of the three approaches was applied with different numbers of calibration plots in a simulation, and the accuracy was assessed using independent validation data. The primary findings were that local calibration reduced the relative mean difference in 89% of the cases, and the relative root mean squared error in 56% of the cases. Differences between application of temporally or spatially external models were minor, and when the number of local plots was small, calibration approaches based on the observed prediction errors on the up-to-date local field plots were better than using the reparametrized models. The results showed that the estimates resulting from calibrating external models with 20 plots were at the same level of accuracy as those resulting from a new inventory.
The aim of this study was to examine how well stem volume, above-ground biomass and dominant height can be predicted using nationwide airborne laser scanning (ALS) based regression models. The study material consisted of nine practical ALS inventory projects taken from different parts of Finland. We used field sample plots and airborne laser scanning data to create nationwide and regional models for each response variable. The final models had one or two ALS predictors, which were chosen based on the root mean square error (RMSE), and cross-validated. Finally, we tested how much predictions would improve if the nationwide models were calibrated with a small number of regional sample plots. Although forest structures differ among different parts of Finland, the nationwide volume and biomass models performed quite well (leave-inventory-area-out RMSE 22.3% to 33.8%, mean difference [MD] –13.8% to 18.7%) compared with regional models (leave-plot-out RMSE 20.2% to 26.8%). However, the nationwide dominant height model (RMSE 5.4% to 7.7%, MD –2.0% to 2.8%, with the exception of the Tornio region – RMSE 11.4%, MD –9.1%) performed nearly as well as the regional models (RMSE 5.2% to 6.7%). The results show that the nationwide volume and biomass models provided different means than real means at regional level, because forest structure and ALS device have a considerable effect on the predictions. Large MDs appeared especially in northern Finland. Local calibration decreased the MD and RMSE of volume and biomass models. However, the nationwide dominant height model did not benefit much from calibration.
Accurate timber assortment information is required before cuttings to optimize wood allocation and logging activities. Timber assortments can be derived from diameter-height distribution that is most often predicted from the stand characteristics provided by forest inventory. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the accuracy of three different pre-harvest inventory methods in predicting the structure of mainly Scots pine-dominated, clear-cut stands. The investigated methods were an area-based approach (ABA) based on airborne laser scanning data, the smartphone-based forest inventory Trestima app and the more conventional pre-harvest inventory method called EMO. The estimates of diameter-height distributions based on each method were compared to accurate tree taper data measured and registered by the harvester’s measurement systems during the final cut. According to our results, grid-level ABA and Trestima were generally the most accurate methods for predicting diameter-height distribution. ABA provides predictions for systematic 16 m × 16 m grids from which stand-wise characteristics are aggregated. In order to enable multimodal stand-wise distributions, distributions must be predicted for each grid cell and then aggregated for the stand level, instead of predicting a distribution from the aggregated stand-level characteristics. Trestima required a sufficient sample for reliable results. EMO provided accurate results for the dominating Scots pine but, it could not capture minor admixtures. ABA seemed rather trustworthy in predicting stand characteristics and diameter distribution of standing trees prior to harvesting. Therefore, if up-to-date ABA information is available, only limited benefits can be obtained from stand-specific inventory using Trestima or EMO in mature pine or spruce-dominated forests.