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Forest Inventories: Discrepancies and Uncertainties

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  • Waggoner, Paul E.

Abstract

Credits for sequestered carbon augment forests’ already considerable value as natural habitat and as producers of timber and biomass, making their accurate inventory more critical than ever before. This article examines discrepancies in inventories of forest attributes and their sources in four variables: area, timber volume per area, biomass per timber volume, and carbon concentration. Documented discrepancies range up to a multibillion-ton difference in the global stock of carbon in trees. Because the variables are multiplied together to estimate an attribute like carbon stock, more precise measurement of the most certain variable improves accuracy little, and a 10 percent error in biomass per timber levers a discrepancy as much as a mistake in millions of hectares. More precise measurements of, say, accessible stands cannot remedy inaccuracies from biased sampling of regional forests. The discrepancies and uncertainties documented here underscore the obligation to improve monitoring of global forests.

Suggested Citation

  • Waggoner, Paul E., 2009. "Forest Inventories: Discrepancies and Uncertainties," Discussion Papers dp-09-29.pdf, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-09-29.pdf
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-09-29.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Sloggy, Matthew R. & Kling, David M. & Plantinga, Andrew J., 2020. "Measure twice, cut once: Optimal inventory and harvest under volume uncertainty and stochastic price dynamics," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
    2. Köhl, Michael & Neupane, Prem Raj & Mundhenk, Philip, 2020. "REDD+ measurement, reporting and verification – A cost trap? Implications for financing REDD+MRV costs by result-based payments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 168(C).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    forest monitoring; Forest Identity; forest carbon; remote sensing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q23 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Forestry
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

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