Forest Measurements and Biometrics

Forest Measurements and Biometrics

Decision-making in resource management requires accurate information obtained using best practices. This module examines some of the principles and procedures of gathering, storing, analyzing, displaying and reporting land information particularly for forest environments.

Learning Objectives

After viewing this presentation and relevant support material, users should be able to:

  • Explain the importance of collecting accurate information on forests and other lands.
  • List and discuss five aspects of forest information, starting with data collection.
  • Describe basic tree measurements, and the two types of plots commonly used for forests.
  • Describe the two sampling designs that are the basis for forest inventory.
  • Describe the importance of storing data, and the main issues.
  • Discuss how displaying and reporting information might change for different users of the data.
  • Discuss the complexity of forest land information acquisition.


Dr. Val LeMay Professor

Listen to Dr. Valerie LeMay respond to the question: How did I get interested in this area of study? by clicking on her photo.

For information about Dr. LeMay, please check UBC, Faculty of Forestry

Module Resources

Before viewing a presentation or lab, be sure to read the instructions on using this resource.


Forest Measurements and Forest Biometrics

Dr. Val LeMay
differentiates between census and sampling in the gathering of forest data, then discusses simple random versus systematic sampling, simple fixed and variable radius sample plots, types of measurements on trees, data storage principles, data base management for analysis, and data display via graphs, tables, maps and 3-D visualizations. The lecture also contains a video showing basic tree and plot measures that are commonly taken in forests.

Other Resources

  • LeMay, V.M. and P.L. Marshall. 1990. Forest mensuration. Commentaries on Forestry 238 for Guided Independent Studies. UBC Access/Guided Independent Studies, U.B.C. 206pp. pdf available here.
  • Marshall, P.L. and V.M. LeMay. 1989. An introduction to forest mensuration and photogrammetry. Commentaries on Forestry 237 for Guided Independent Studies. UBC Access/Guided Independent Studies, UBC. 166pp. pdf available here

Potential Questions for Instructors

  1. Explain why we need to have accurate information on forests
  2. For gathering information:
    • Discuss simple sampling designs that can be used in forests.
    • Discuss the two types of sample plots commonly used.
    • Describe the commonly measured tree attributes taken for all trees in a forest sample plot and what equipment is used to obtain these measures
  3. For storing information:
    • Discuss how you might store these data for long periods of time
    • Discuss how you might ensure that the data are accurate
  4. For analyzing information:
    • Discuss what plot and stand level variables can be obtained using these plot data (i.e., volume per ha? Other variables?
    • Discuss how you would summarize the variables from each plot over the stand
    • Discuss how you would summarize these variables over the entire forest area
    • Discuss how you might forecast the growth of these stands over time
  5. For displaying and reporting information:
    • Discuss how you might display and report on this information for use by forest managers.
    • Discuss how you might display and report on this information for use by the general public.
    • How might this change from how you would display and report on this information for forest managers?