European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 130, Issue 5, pp 851–859 | Cite as

Comparison of relascope and fixed-radius plots for the estimation of forest stand variables in northeast Spain: an inventory simulation approach

  • Míriam PiquéEmail author
  • Berta Obon
  • Sonia Condés
  • Santiago Saura
Original Paper


The Bitterlich relascope is a multiple use dendrometer widely used in forest inventory. Although it is most commonly used to estimate basal area, the relascope can also estimate other stand variables, including density and diameter distribution. However, forest stand inventories in Spain rarely use relascope plots to estimate these variables due to the belief that they lead to higher errors than fixed-radius plots due to the heterogeneity of many Mediterranean forests. This study compared the accuracy of the estimated averages of three main stand variables (basal area, stand density, and diameter class distribution) in forest stand inventories performed with relascope plots and with conventional fixed-radius circular plots, both measuring a similar number of trees (15–20). A forest stand inventory simulator (DOMO) was used (1) to generate simulated forest stands corresponding to the nine most common types in the Mediterranean region of Catalonia (NE Spain), including even-aged and uneven-aged stands, and (2) to estimate and compare the average values of these variables at the forest stand level resulting from both plot types. In general, we did not find significant accuracy differences between the inventory systems for most of the stand variables and forest types studied, as expected by established angle-count sampling theory. However, the results show that for stands with multiple strata and open structures, the Bitterlich relascope provides a more accurate estimate for basal area than for density, while the reverse occurs for fixed-radius plots.


Bitterlich Angle-count sampling Point sampling Variable-radius plot Mediterranean forests 



This study was supported by the Centre de la Propietat Forestal of Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge de la Generalitat de Catalunya. Authors wish to express their gratitude to Jaime Coello who collaborated in the language revision and the anonymous reviewers who provided useful remarks and suggestions to the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Míriam Piqué
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Berta Obon
    • 1
  • Sonia Condés
    • 3
  • Santiago Saura
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre Tecnològic Forestal de CatalunyaSolsona, LleidaSpain
  2. 2.Departament d’Enginyeria Agroforestal, Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyeria AgràriaUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Economía y Gestión Forestal, E.T.S.I. MontesUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain

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