Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science

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Total tree, merchantable stem and branch volume models for miombo woodlands of Malawi

Daud J Kachamba, Tron Eid


The objective of this study was to develop general (multispecies) models for  prediction of total tree, merchantable stem and branch volume including options with diameter at breast height (dbh) only, and with both dbh and total tree height (ht), as  independent variables. The modelling data set was based on destructively sampled trees and comprised 74 trees from 33 tree species, collected from four forest reserves located in different ecological zones of Malawi. The dbh and ht ranges for the data set were 5.3–111.2 cm and 3.0–25.0 m, respectively. A number of alternative model forms were tested and the final model selection was based on root mean square error (RMSE) values calculated using a leave-one-out cross-validation procedure. The model  performances and the evaluations of the finally selected models (R 2 range 0.72 to 0.92; RMSE range 38% to 71%; mean  prediction errors range −1.4% to 1.3%) suggest that all models can be used over a wide range of geographical and ecological  conditions in Malawi with an appropriate accuracy in predictions. The appropriateness of the developed models was also  supported by the fact that the mean prediction errors of these models were much lower than the mean prediction errors (range −23.6% to 48.9%) of some previously developed models tested on our data.

Keywords: cross-validation, destructive sampling, general volume models

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