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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2008) 53(1): 33–41
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Professional Paper
Digital terrain modelling for site productivity assessment and stand management in plantation forestry

H. Collerton 1, B. Hock 2, R. Hawke 3 and T. Payn 4

1 Scion Ltd
2 Scion Ltd
3 Scion Ltd
4 Scion Ltd

Digital terrain modelling and sampled plot productivity data is used to generate a predictive surface of site productivity across a heterogeneous landscape of 35,000 ha of plantation forestry. The productivity surface is generated from terrain and topographic attributes, specifically slope, elevation and a solar radiation index, using map algebra functions in a Geographic Information System. The quantitative surface is able to explain 41% of the variation in site productivity across the landscape. The within-compartment variation in site productivity was related to the variation predicted by the model surface. This technique makes it possible to model site productivity from terrain characteristics, reducing the need to collect detailed soil or other environmental data. This approach is relatively low cost, directly links the terrain to forest productivity and provides a useful tool for planning and optimising stand management units in the forestry enterprise with respect to the environmental variability of sites across the landscape.
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