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Evaluations of inventory methods usually end when precision and bias are quantified. Additional information on the appropriateness of a method may be provided through cost-plus-loss analyses, where the total costs are calculated as the sum of net present value (NPV) losses, i.e. expected economic losses as a result of future incorrect decisions due to errors in measurements, and inventory costs. The aim of the study was to compare inventories of basal area, dominant height and number of trees per hectare based on photo-interpretation and laser scanning from two sites in Norway by means of cost-plus-loss analyses. In general, more precise estimates were found for laser scanning than for photo-interpretation, while the biases were about equally distributed between the two methods. On average for the two sites, the inventory costs, NPV losses and total costs for photo-interpretation were about 6, 49 and 54 euros ha −1 , respectively, while they were 11, 13 and 25 euros ha −1 for laser scanning. The data used for the comparison were limited to two sites and 77 stands, and certain simplifying assumptions were made in the cost-plus-loss analyses. Still, there is reason to believe that the results of the study are of general validity with respect to the main conclusion when comparing the two methods.