U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Forest Ecology and Management 385 (2017) 236–253


U.S. Government Work


The focus on forest carbon estimation accompanying the implementation of increased regulatory and reporting requirements is fostering the development of numerous tools and methods to facilitate carbon estimation. One such well-established mechanism is via the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), a growth and yield modeling system used by public and private land managers and researchers, which provides two alternate approaches to quantifying carbon in live trees on forest land – these are known as the Jenkins and Fire and Fuels Extension (FFE) equations. A necessary consideration in developing forest carbon estimates is to address alternate, potentially different, estimates that are likely available from more than one source. A key to using such information is some understanding of where alternate estimates are expected to produce equivalent results. We address this here by focusing on potential equivalence among three commonly employed approaches to estimating individual-tree carbon, which are all applicable to inventory sampling or inventory simulation applications. Specifically, the two approaches available in FVS – Jenkins and FFE – and the third, the component ratio method (CRM) used in the U.S. Forest Service’s, Forest Inventory and Analysis national DataBase (FIADB).

A key finding of this study is that the Jenkins, FFE, and CRM methods are not universally equivalent, and that equivalence varies across regions, forest types, and levels of data aggregation. No consistent alignment of approaches was identified. In general, equivalence was identified in a greater proportion of cases when forests were summarized at more aggregate levels such as all softwood type groups or entire variants. Most frequently, the FIA inventory-based CRM and FFE were determined to be equivalent.