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Forest inventories, like those conducted by the Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) in the Rocky Mountain Region, are under increased pressure to produce better information at reduced costs. Here we describe our efforts in Utah to merge satellite-based information with forest inventory data for the purposes of reducing the costs of estimates of forest population totals and providing spatial depiction of forest resources. We illustrate how generalized linear models can be used to construct approximately unbiased and efficient estimates of population totals while providing a mechanism for prediction in space for mapping of forest structure. We model forest type and timber volume of five tree species groups as functions of a variety of predictor variables in the northern Utah mountains. Predictor variables include elevation, aspect, slope, geographic coordinates, as well as vegetation cover types based on satellite data from both the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Thematic Mapper (TM) platforms. We examine the relative precision of estimates of area by forest type and mean cubic-foot volumes under six different models, including the traditional double sampling for stratification strategy. Only very small gains in precision were realized through the use of expensive photointerpreted or TM-based data for stratification, while models based on topography and spatial coordinates alone were competitive. We also compare the predictive capability of the models through various map accuracy measures. The models including the TM-based vegetation performed best overall, while topography and spatial coordinates alone provided substantial information at very low cost.
Additional Publication Details
Use of generalized linear models and digital data in a forest inventory of Northern Utah
Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics