Environmental Management

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 624–631 | Cite as

Estimating Dead Wood During National Forest Inventories: A Review of Inventory Methodologies and Suggestions for Harmonization

  • Christopher W. Woodall
  • Jacques Rondeux
  • Pieter J. Verkerk
  • Göran Ståhl


Efforts to assess forest ecosystem carbon stocks, biodiversity, and fire hazards have spurred the need for comprehensive assessments of forest ecosystem dead wood (DW) components around the world. Currently, information regarding the prevalence, status, and methods of DW inventories occurring in the world’s forested landscapes is scattered. The goal of this study is to describe the status, DW components measured, sample methods employed, and DW component thresholds used by national forest inventories that currently inventory DW around the world. Study results indicate that most countries do not inventory forest DW. Globally, we estimate that about 13% of countries inventory DW using a diversity of sample methods and DW component definitions. A common feature among DW inventories was that most countries had only just begun DW inventories and employ very low sample intensities. There are major hurdles to harmonizing national forest inventories of DW: differences in population definitions, lack of clarity on sample protocols/estimation procedures, and sparse availability of inventory data/reports. Increasing database/estimation flexibility, developing common dimensional thresholds of DW components, publishing inventory procedures/protocols, releasing inventory data/reports to international peer review, and increasing communication (e.g., workshops) among countries inventorying DW are suggestions forwarded by this study to increase DW inventory harmonization.


Inventory Standing dead wood Downed dead wood Harmonization Forest 



The authors would like to thank all NFI correspondents that provided us information on DW inventory methods. Additionally, some survey responses were based on surveys already conducted by COST Action E43: “Harmonization of National Forest Inventories in Europe: Techniques for Common Reporting.” Verkerk was financially supported by the EU 6th Framework Programme as part of the SENSOR project [European Commission, contract no. 003874-2 (GOCE)].


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher W. Woodall
    • 1
  • Jacques Rondeux
    • 2
  • Pieter J. Verkerk
    • 3
  • Göran Ståhl
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest ServiceSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Gembloux Agricultural UniversityGemblouxBelgium
  3. 3.European Forest InstituteJoensuuFinland
  4. 4.Department of Forest Resources and GeomaticsSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden

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