Press release 27.9.2006
The finding is interesting from the measuring technique point of view as well: visual assessment of the smallest tree is easier than selecting any other quantile tree; on relascope sample plots trees are counted at only a close distance from the measuring staff. Additionally, nearby trees are reached more quickly.
Another good technique is to measure the tree closest to the plot centre. These strategies produced better predictions than, for example, using the maximum diameter, one approaching the log-size limit or selecting a tree randomly. It is recommended that quantile tree measurements be performed on several plots: the results are better if one minimum quantile tree is measured on two plots rather than taking the two smallest trees on a single plot.
The data set comprised 512 stands and on each site, three plots were selected where the locations and diameters of trees were measured. Error-free quantile tree measurements were then simulated on the test plots. The standard error and bias calculated for volume, log-sized volume, energy wood volume and stem number were used as metrics for the accuracy of the inventory.
In particular, using the minimum trees reduced the standard error of stem number and energy wood volume. However, simultaneously, it also increased the bias for stem number, total volume and log-sized volume. Therefore, the quantile tree approach is justified when a small standard error overrides the effect in small bias. The results are dependent on the diameter distribution prediction model used, and they may change if another model is used.
The quantile tree approach seems to provide a relatively accurate prediction for any part of the diameter distribution.
The study was conducted in collaboration between the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla), the Universities of Joensuu and Helsinki and it was funded by the Academy of Finland.
Publication: Mehtätalo, L., Maltamo, M. and Kangas, A. 2006. The use of quantile trees in the prediction of the diameter distribution of a stand. Silva Fennica 40(3): 501-516.