Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 164, Issue 1–4, pp 617–630 | Cite as

Review of indicators and field methods for monitoring biodiversity within national forest inventories. Core variable: Deadwood



Deadwood is one of the four elements taken into account in this review of indicators and field methods and is often considered as a key indicator of forest biodiversity. We have analysed the main types of surveys and have realised how greatly the needs and constraints used to monitor deadwood can vary among them. For instance, classical National Forest Inventories usually tend to avoid time-consuming collecting methods. In the wide variety of existing definitions of deadwood, such inventories require simple and clear definitions, especially in terms of quantified thresholds. Thus, deadwood is properly described by characterising several components, such as snags, logs, stumps, branches and fine woody debris. Deadwood sampling methods alter depending on the different components and dimensions considered (standing dead trees, lying dead trees and branches, etc. assessed quantitatively). Attributes such as tree species and stage of decay are used mainly to qualify the deadwood components. The deadwood volume estimations are usually based on classical approaches already applied to living or felled trees: volume equations and/or formulas giving the volumes of common geometric solids. The purpose of this paper is to focus on different deadwood assessment techniques and to provide the information necessary to identify the most relevant methods for collecting deadwood data. The latter is used to build indicators that characterise the evolution of forest biodiversity at the scale of large forest territories.


Deadwood Deadwood attributes Deadwood components Forest biodiversity National forest inventory Sampling methods Volume calculations 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit of Forest and Nature ManagementGembloux Agricultural UniversityGemblouxBelgium

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