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Model performance of tree height-diameter relationships in the central Congo Basin

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

© 2017, INRA and Springer-Verlag France. Key message: Tree heights in the central Congo Basin are overestimated using best-available height-diameter models. These errors are propagated into the estimation of aboveground biomass and canopy height, causing significant bias when used for calibration of remote sensing products in this region. Context: Tree height-diameter models are important components of estimating aboveground biomass (AGB) and calibrating remote sensing products in tropical forests. Aims: For a data-poor area of the central Congo Basin, we quantified height-diameter model performance of local, regional and pan-tropical models for their use in estimating AGB and canopy height. Methods: At three old-growth forest sites, we assessed the bias introduced in height estimation by regional and pan-tropical height-diameter models. We developed an optimal local model with site-level randomizations accounted for by using a mixed-effects modeling approach. We quantified the error propagation of modeled heights for estimating AGB and canopy height. Results: Regional and pan-tropical height-diameter models produced a significant overestimation in tree height, propagating into significant overestimations of AGB and Lorey’s height. The pan-tropical model accounting for climatic drivers performed better than the regional models. We present a local height-diameter model which produced nonsignificant errors for AGB and canopy height estimations at our study area. Conclusion: The application of general models at our study area introduced bias in tree height estimations and the derived stand-level variables. Improved delimitation of regions in tropical Africa with similar forest structure is needed to produce models fit for calibrating remote sensing products.
Journal: Annals of Forest Science
ISSN: 1286-4560
Issue: 1
Volume: 74
Pages: 1 - 12
Publication year:2017