Spatio-temporal Analysis of Tree Height in a Young Cork Oak Plantation

International Journal of Geographical Information ScienceInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science, Volume 25, Issue 7, 2011

L. Sedda, P.M. Atkinson, M.R. Filigheddu, G. Cotzia, and S. Dettori

“Cork oak is one of the most valuable natural forest genera in the Mediterranean basin. Modelling cork oak growth has been a challenge for foresters in recent years because of strong site and genetic influences, below-ground competition, management regimes and age effects. Because cork productivity is related to forest height, which is, in turn, related directly with site characteristics, an increase in the accuracy of height prediction implies improved productivity estimation. A Bayesian maximum entropy (BME) geostatistical model was applied to characterize the space–time pattern of height of young cork oak in a forest stand from central Sardinia in the years 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2008. Cork oak height maps were produced for each of the 5 years. The main goals were to analyse and interpret through time (i) the changes in spatial correlation and (ii) the changes in spatial distribution of cork oak height.

Experimental site (white striped area) and neighbouring forest (white cross-striped area). The upper right box shows the location of the plantation (black point) in Sardinia, Italy.

“The plantation was characterized by an increasing spatial dependence through time, whereas the temporal range was 2 years. Cork oak height was significantly correlated with wind speed (reduced by a neighbouring forest) in all the years implying a single trend. The correlations were larger for 2006 and 2008 than for previous years. Three other environmental variables (shade, elevation and slope) were less significant and their influence restricted to 2 years only. This research has several implications for the management of cork oak in the young phase.”