Diameter, height and volume increment single tree models for improved Sitka spruce in Great Britain
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The British forestry sector lacks reliable dynamic growth models for stands of improved Sitka spruce, the most important commercial forest type in Great Britain. The aim of this study is to fill this gap by trialling a new modelling framework and to lay the foundations of a future dynamic growth simulator for that forest type. First, we present single tree diameter and height increment models that are climate sensitive and include explicit competition effects. The predictions from the increment models are pooled to project diameter and height at a given age. These projections are then used as inputs to an integrated taper model from which stochastic tree volume predictions are obtained. Retrospective data from over 1400 trees collected in two extensive genetic trials in Scotland and Wales were used for the purposes of this study. Diameter increment and height increment predictions were highly accurate and diameter and height projections proved consistent. The predicted volume at the time of harvesting also exhibited a high degree of accuracy, which shows the robustness of our approach. Further data will be needed in the future to recalibrate the present models and extend their range of validity to the whole of Great Britain.
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