Technical notes

Low cost poplar inventory in the plain of Piemonte (Italy)


The forest inventory is an important tool to know the current and to estimate the future wood availability for industry. Generally it request high economic and time costs if based on direct sampling on the areas or on classification of aerial photo or satellite images.  The paper shows a methodology based on open source software (QGIS®) and images free available on the web (trough ‘Google EarthTM’ software) to carry out a forest inventory particularly regarding poplar stands surface. This cultivation in Italy is characterized by short rotation, about ten years, and the wood is a row material very important for the industry, particularly for plywood. The results of an experimental survey located in the plain of Piemonte Region (north-west Italy) are presented in order to evaluate the timing of completion and the efficiency of the methodology. Data of land cover, divided by poplars, other forest plantations, and natural forests are showed and compared with old inventories, carried out with traditional methods. The evidence of reduction of costs in term of man involved, time, and materials is counterbalanced by some problems due to different age of the web images; however, this alternative methodology, applied by an experienced operator can ensure a good level of precision for the purposes required, with very low costs.


Forest inventory; Poplar; Open source; QGIS®; Google EarthTM

Full Text:




Borecki T., Bogdan B., Stępień E., Wójcik R. 2015 - Development of forest inventory methods in multifunctional forest management. Folia Forestalia Polonica, series A, 2015, Vol. 57 (2): 120–125

Cellerino G.P., Lapietra G. 1977 - Interpretazione di aerofotografie in piccola scala per il censimento della pioppicoltura. Cellulosa e Carta, XXVIII 3:15-25

CFS-CREA MPF 2005 - Inventario Nazionale delle Foreste e dei serbatoi di carbonio 2005. Corpo Forestale dello Stato, 2005: 31 pp.

Coaloa D. 2006 - Indagine del mercato dell’arboricoltura da legno piemontese con particolare riferimento alla pioppicoltura. [Online] Available:

Coaloa D., Chiarabaglio P.M. 1997 - È in aumento la disponibilità di legno di pioppo - Rapporto annuale sulla pioppicoltura 1996. L'Informatore Agrario, (LIII) 20: 58-60.

Coaloa D., Chiarabaglio P.M. 1998a - Inventario della pioppicoltura con aerofotografie ad alta quota. Sherwood, (IV) 32: 49-51.

Coaloa D., Chiarabaglio P.M. 1998b - Inventario della pioppicoltura in Emilia Romagna. Arboricoltura da Legno, in (XL) Linea Ecologica (XXX) 2: 54-56.

Coaloa D., Chiarabaglio P.M. 2000a - La pioppicoltura in Piemonte. L’Informatore Agrario 47: 53-56.

Coaloa D., Chiarabaglio P.M. 2000b - Inventario della pioppicoltura in Emilia Romagna. Realizzato da: Istituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura (Casale Monferrato (AL) and Regione Emilia Romagna, Assessorato Agricoltura, Ambiente e Sviluppo Sostenibile. Bologna 2000. 24 pp.

ISTAT 2013 - Annuario Statistico Italiano 2013. Istituto nazionale di Statistica ISBN 978-88-458-1769-4 (printed); ISBN 978-88-458-1770-0 (on-line).

Lapietra G., Sampietro L., Collot T. 1980 - Inventario statistico per punti della pioppicoltura specializzata nella Pianura Padana. Tip. A. Palombi, Roma, 112 pp.

Loetsch F., Haller K.E. 1964 - Forest inventory. Volume I. Statistics of forest inventory and information from aerial photographs. BLV, Mùnchen

Loetsch F., Zohrer F., Haller K.E. 1973 - Forestry inventory. Volume 2. BLV, Mùnchen, 469 pp.

Miceli G., Pekkarinen A., Leppanen M. 2011 - Open Foris Initiative—Tools for Forest Monitoring and Reporting. Concept Note, FAO, Rome, 7. [On line] Available:

Olofsson P., Foody G.M., Herold M., Stehman S.V., Woodcock C.E., Wulder M.A. 2014 - Good practices for estimating area and assessing accuracy of land change. Remote Sensing of Environment, Vol. 148: 42-57. [On line] Available:

QGIS Development Team 2009 - QGIS Geographic Information System. Open Source Geospatial Foundation. [On line] URL:

Copyright (c) 2018 Pier Mario Chiarabaglio, Sara Bergante, Michele Scirè, Domenico Coaloa

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License

All texts reported in and all materials directly downloadable from this page are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.