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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Growing stock monitoring by European National Forest Inventories: Historical origins, current methods and harmonisation

Gschwantner, Thomas; Alberdi, Iciar; Bauwens, Sebastien; Bender, Susann; Borota, Dragan; Bosela, Michal; Bouriaud, Olivier; Breidenbach, Johannes; Donis, Janis; Fischer, Christoph; Gasparini, Patrizia; Heffernan, Luke; Herve, Jean-Christophe; Kolozs, Laszlo; Korhonen, Kari T.; Koutsias, Nikos; Kovacsevics, Pal; Kucera, Milos; Kulbokas, Gintaras; Kuliesis, Andrius;
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Wood resources have been essential for human welfare throughout history. Also nowadays, the volume of growing stock (GS) is considered one of the most important forest attributes monitored by National Forest Inventories (NFIs) to inform policy decisions and forest management planning. The origins of forest inventories closely relate to times of early wood shortage in Europe causing the need to explore and plan the utilisation of GS in the catchment areas of mines, saltworks and settlements. Over time, forest surveys became more detailed and their scope turned to larger areas, although they were still conceived as stand-wise inventories. In the 1920s, the first sample-based NFIs were introduced in the northern European countries. Since the earliest beginnings, GS monitoring approaches have considerably evolved. Current NFI methods differ due to country-specific conditions, inventory traditions, and information needs. Consequently, GS estimates were lacking international comparability and were therefore subject to recent harmonisation efforts to meet the increasing demand for consistent forest resource information at European level. As primary large-area monitoring programmes in most European countries, NFIs assess a multitude of variables, describing various aspects of sustainable forest management, including for example wood supply, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity. Many of these contemporary subject matters involve considerations about GS and its changes, at different geographic levels and time frames from past to future developments according to scenario simulations. Due to its historical, continued and currently increasing importance, we provide an up-to-date review focussing on large-area GS monitoring where we i) describe the origins and historical development of European NFIs, ii) address the terminology and present GS definitions of NFIs, iii) summarise the current methods of 23 European NFIs including sampling methods, tree measurements, volume models, estimators, uncertainty components, and the use of air-and space-borne data sources, iv) present the recent progress in NFI harmonisation in Europe, and v) provide an outlook under changing climate and forest-based bioeconomy objectives.


Forest history; Natural resources; Sustainability; Timber volume; Sampling; Remote sensing; Bioeconomy; Climate change

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management

2022, volume: 505, article number: 119868
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Gschwantner, Thomas
Nat Hazards and Landscape BFW
Alberdi, Iciar
Instituto Nacional Investigacion Tecnologia Agraria Alimentaria (INIA)
Bauwens, Sebastien
University of Liege
Bender, Susann
Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute
Borota, Dragan
University of Belgrade
Bosela, Michal
Natl Forest Ctr NFC
Bosela, Michal
Technical University Zvolen
Bouriaud, Olivier
Natl Inst Res and Dev Forestry INCDS
Breidenbach, Johannes
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
Donis, Janis
Latvian State Forest Res Inst Silava LSFRI
Fischer, Christoph
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
Gasparini, Patrizia
CREA Ctr Ric Foreste and Legno Res Ctr Forestry and W
Heffernan, Luke
Forest Serv FS
Kolozs, Laszlo
Natl Food Chain Safety Off NFCSO
Korhonen, Kari T.
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)
Koutsias, Nikos
University of Patras
Kovacsevics, Pal
Natl Food Chain Safety Off NFCSO
Kucera, Milos
Forest Management Inst UHUL
Kulbokas, Gintaras
Lithuanian State Forest Serv LSFS
Kulbokas, Gintaras
Vytautas Magnus Univ Agr Acad VMUAA
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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