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Relationships between diameter and height of trees in natural tropical forest in Tanzania

Wilson A Mugasha
Ole M Bollandsås
Tron Eid


The relationship between tree height (h) and tree diameter at breast height (dbh) is an important element describing forest stands. In addition, h often is a required variable in volume and biomass models. Measurements of h are, however, more time consuming compared to those of dbh, and visual obstructions, rounded crown forms, leaning trees and terrain slopes represent additional error sources for h measurements. The aim of this study was therefore to develop h–dbh relationship models for natural tropical forest in Tanzania. Both general forest type specific models and models for tree species groups were developed. A comprehensive data set with 2 623 trees from 410 different tree species collected from a total of 1 191 plots and 38 sites covering the four main forest types of miombo woodland, acacia savanna, montane forest and lowland forests was applied. Tree species groups were constructed by using a k-means clustering procedure based on the h–dbh allometry, and a number of different non-linear model forms were tested. When considering the complexity of natural tropical forests in general and in particular variations of h–dbh relationships due to high species diversity in such forests, the model fit and performance were considered to be appropriate. Results also indicate that tree species group models perform better than forest type models. Despite the fact that the residual errors level associated with the models were relatively high, the models are still considered to be applicable for large parts of Tanzanian forests with an appropriate level of reliability.

Keywords: acacia savanna, height–diameter allometry, lowland forests, miombo woodland, montane forest, species groups

Southern Forests 2013, 75(4): 221–237

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-2639
print ISSN: 2070-2620