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Estimating Forestland Area Change from Inventory Data

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Simple methods for estimating the proportion of land changing from forest to nonforest are developed. Variance estimators are derived to facilitate significance tests. A power analysis indicates that 400 inventory plots are required to reliably detect small changes in net or gross forest loss. This is an important result because forest certification programs may require additional precautions when wood from areas where forestland area loss is occurring is harvested or purchased. Net and gross forest area loss must be clearly differentiated to avoid confusion. Estimates of gross forest cover loss from satellite data should not be equated with net forest area loss, which can be better determined from remeasured forest inventory plots. Simultaneous tests of net and gross forest area loss should use multiple comparison procedures to ensure that overall error rates are correct. Examples of applications demonstrate how to properly perform these tests. A simulated example is used to verify that the variance estimators are reliable. An application to USDA Forest Service inventory data indicates that neither net nor gross forest loss at the state level was statistically significant for states that had sufficient remeasured plot data publicly available when this analysis was done.

Keywords: Forest Inventory and Analysis data; forest conservation; gross forest cover loss; land use change

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.12-102

Publication date: March 24, 2013

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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