Hamdan Omar and Muhamad Afizzul Misman
Keywords: plot design; nesting; forest inventory; systematic survey
Abstract: Malaysia currently has about 18 million ha of forest and rich with diverse flora and fauna species. Forests have been recognized as the most important resources that contribute to the economic sector as well as human wellbeing and environmental protections. Inventory of these resources requires a lot of efforts, huge cost of operation, require time and costly. Malaysia is moving toward a rapid assessment of forest resources and nationally, it requires to be updated every five years. This information not only crucial for national reporting but also to be used for international reporting. Therefore, a systematic plot design is necessary to address these issues and the sampling design must be systematic that can drive the processes from the beginning to reporting running smoothly. This innovation is about the establishment of a plot design for forest survey and sampling for forest resources inventory, suitable for Malaysia’s forest types and conditions. The design was developed for three major types of forests, which are inland dipterocarp forest, peat swamp forest and mangrove forest. The plot is designed to provide solutions for three common issues in forest inventory and surveys, which are (i) quick observation at the field, (ii) engaging minimal man-power, (iii) instance data collection, and (iv) systematic maneuvering of field crews at the field. The data collection protocols allow data to be analyzed for calculation of basic biophysical properties of forest i.e. tree species, tree density, basal area, volume, and aboveground biomass. Moreover, the design allows systematic data collection for carbon stock of forest that includes five carbon pools i.e. aboveground, belowground, deadwood, litterfalls, and soils organic carbon. A sampling unit comprises a cluster of four (4) subplots for inland forest and six (6) subplots for peat swamp and mangrove forests. The shape of the plot is circular and is divided into nests (subset) with varying radius. The clustering multiple subplots method allowed field crews to sample a larger area per sampling unit. The sampling system is designed in a way to make the data collection process easier, faster yet reliable and representative for a particular forest stratum. This design has been tested in various types of forests in Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah and it was proven to be an ideal design, practical to be implemented, save time, manpower and systematic data recording and handling. On top of that, this design is representative to all conditions of forest that are common in Malaysia and regardless the management practices of the forests. It is also able to maintain accuracy at affordable cost and within short timeframe.