European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 126, Issue 2, pp 197–207 | Cite as

Indirect methods of large-scale forest biomass estimation

  • Z. SomogyiEmail author
  • E. Cienciala
  • R. Mäkipää
  • P. Muukkonen
  • A. Lehtonen
  • P. Weiss
Original Paper


Forest biomass and its change over time have been measured at both local and large scales, an example for the latter being forest greenhouse gas inventories. Currently used methodologies to obtain stock change estimates for large forest areas are mostly based on forest inventory information as well as various factors, referred to as biomass factors, or biomass equations, which transform diameter, height or volume data into biomass estimates. However, while forest inventories usually apply statistically sound sampling and can provide representative estimates for large forest areas, the biomass factors or equations used are, in most cases, not representative, because they are based on local studies. Moreover, their application is controversial due to the inconsistent or inappropriate use of definitions involved. There is no standardized terminology of the various factors, and the use of terms and definitions is often confusing. The present contribution aims at systematically summarizing the main types of biomass factors (BF) and biomass equations (BE) and providing guidance on how to proceed when selecting, developing and applying proper factors or equations to be used in forest biomass estimation. The contribution builds on the guidance given by the IPCC (Good practice guidance for land use, land-use change and forestry, 2003) and suggests that proper application and reporting of biomass factors and equations and transparent and consistent reporting of forest carbon inventories are needed in both scientific literature and the greenhouse gas inventory reports of countries.


Biomass Biomass expansion factor Biomass equation Biomass function Forest carbon inventory Greenhouse gas inventory 



This research was funded by the European Commission as part of the project CarboInvent (Multi-Source Inventory Methods for Quantifying Carbon Stocks and Stock Changes in European Forests; contract number EVK2-CT-2002-00157), see COST E21 also provided opportunities for the authors to meet at whole action meetings, as well as at task force meetings, where the issues as presented in the paper were identified and developed. Emil Cienciala also acknowledges the support from the Czech Science Foundation, project ID 526/03/1021.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Z. Somogyi
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. Cienciala
    • 2
  • R. Mäkipää
    • 3
  • P. Muukkonen
    • 3
  • A. Lehtonen
    • 3
  • P. Weiss
    • 4
  1. 1.Joint Research Centre (JRC)IspraItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Forest Ecosystem Research (IFER)Jilove ú PrahyCzech Republic
  3. 3.Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA)HelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Department of Terrestrial EcologyUmweltbundesamt WienViennaAustria

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