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4.01.03 - Instruments and methods in forest mensuration


Peter Marshall, Canada


Tzeng Yih Lam, China - Taipei

Sheng-I Yang, United States

About Unit

Unit 4.01.03 focuses on the development and application of new and technically advanced devices and methods for efficiently and effectively measuring and monitoring forests, trees and stands. An objective of this unit is to facilitate interaction, dissemination and exchange of scientific knowledge and new methods of forest mensuration through workshops, conferences, and publications.

State of Knowledge

Forest mensuration plays an important role in the practice of forest management. Forest research requires information about the density of forests, diversity, spatial distribution of trees within stands, the size distribution of trees within stands and the expected growth of trees and stands. Demand for more and better information from forests has prompted the development and application of new instrumentation and measurement methods.

Forest mensuration has undergone a number of important changes in recent years. Among the most notable are laser and ultrasound based measuring devices, and use of drones, terrestrial and airborne laserscanning, satellite imagery and other advanced remote sensing techniques that are being used to measure and monitor trees and forests. These devices have reduced considerably the time needed for field measurements and can be used to quickly obtain many tree characteristics including spatial positions. Additionally, new methods have been developed for conducting tree-ring analyses including techniques for assessing the physical, chemical, and anatomic properties of wood.  Such measurements are being used for reconstructions of growth conditions and investigations of the impacts of environmental changes on forest growth.

Areas of application

  • Growth & yield/productivity studies in natural and planted forests
  • Measuring the effects of silvicultural management practices on stem form, wood quality, tree growth and stand development
  • Development of total and merchantable volume equations for estimating the biological asset value of tree stands, and biomass tables for carbon estimation
  • Development of non-destructive sampling techniques for volume, biomass and wood quality estimation
  • Studying the impacts of long-term environmental changes to the growth of trees and productivity of forests
  • Quantification of the impact of anthropogenic influences on growth and yield through model refinement and adaptation
  • Forest observational networks for studying and analyzing ecosystem structure and dynamics
  • Use of drones, terrestrial and airborne laserscanning, satellite imagery and other advanced remote sensing techniques for measuring and monitoring trees and forests
  • Advanced scientific methods for measuring and monitoring the impact of environmental conditions such as climate change on forest productivity, structure and diversity