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Forest Inventory

Natural Resources and Agriculture

  1. DR Charles T. Scott,
  2. Jeffrey H. Gove

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vaf013

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

Scott, C. T. and Gove, J. H. 2006. Forest Inventory. Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 3.

Author Information

  1. United States Forest Service, NH, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Forest inventory is an accounting of trees and their related characteristics of interest over a well-defined land area. It may be compared to census methods for human populations. For example, one of the goals of the periodic decennial census of the US is to enumerate its human population and to retrieve demographic variables such as age, sex and race. This is accomplished by a comprehensive survey of all households in the country. Similarly, forest inventories seek to enumerate the population of trees within a forest and ascertain other information, such as their volume, value, growth and species composition. For all but the smallest tracts of land, complete enumeration of individuals is usually infeasible and survey sampling techniques are required. Unlike human or animal populations, trees are sessile organisms and there is no immigration or emigration to consider. However, tree populations vary widely in their species composition, age, size, site requirements, potential value, longevity and growth – all factors that may influence the design of a forest inventory. In addition, the tree population of interest may exist over a wide variety of topography, making access potentially costly and sometimes even dangerous. Such variety often dictates sampling protocols that may be optimal only for some portion of the population in question. Alternatively, it may call for varying sampling intensity or strategy (the combination of the sampling design and associated estimators) between different regions within the population.