Highlights: A parameter recovery method (PRM) was developed for forest stand inventories and compared with previously developed parameter prediction methods (PPM) in Finland; PRM for the 2-parameter Weibull function provided compatibility for the main stand characteristics: stem number, basal area and one of the four optional mean characteristics; PRM provided comparable and at its best, superior accuracy in volume characteristics compared with PPM.
The moment-based parameter recovery method (PRM) has not been applied in Finland since the 1930s, even after a continuation of forest stand structure modelling in the 1980s. This paper presents a general overview of PRM and some useful applications. Applied PRM provided compatibility for the included stand characteristics of stem number (N) and basal area (G) with either mean (D), basal area-weighted mean (DG), median (DM) or basal area-median (DGM) diameter at breast height (dbh). A two-parameter Weibull function was used to describe the dbh-frequency distribution of Scots pine stands in Finland. In the validation, PRM was compared with existing parameter prediction models (PPMs). In addition, existing models for stand characteristics were used for the prediction of unknown characteristics. Validation consisted of examining the performance of the predicted distributions with respect to variation in stand density and accuracy of the localised distributions, as well as accuracy in terms of bias and the RMSE in stand characteristics in the independent test data set. The validation data consisted of 467 randomly selected stands from the National Forest Inventory based plots. PRM demonstrated excellent accuracy if G and N were both known. At its best, PRM provided accuracy that was superior to any existing model in Finland – especially in young stands (mean height < 9 m), where the RMSE in total and pulp wood volumes, 3.6 and 5.7%, respectively, was reduced by one-half of the values obtained using the best performing existing PPM (8.7–11.3%). The unweighted Weibull distribution solved by PRM was found to be competitive with weighted existing PPMs for advanced stands. Therefore, using PRM, the need for a basal area weighted distribution proved unnecessary, contrary to common belief. Models for G and N were shown to be unreliable and need to be improved to obtain more reliable distributions using PRM.