Ústav pro hospodářskou úpravu lesů Brandýs nad Labem

History of the NFI in the Czech Republic

The history of the National Forest Inventory in the Czech Republic dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The first NFI based on a sample survey was carried out in 2001–2004.

The beginning of the Czech NFI

The need for information about the state and development of forests above the level of individual forest property, namely for large regions representing today’s understanding of a country, existed and was tackled as early as the second half of the 19th century. This period includes the first statistical surveys (questionnaire censuses) performed on the territory of today’s Czech Republic [1].

Shortly after the independent country was formed in 1918, the statistical survey on forests in Czechoslovakia according to the state in 1920 [1] was carried out. This exhaustive survey was based on questionnaires (censuses). Virtually all landlords or managers of large forests in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia obtained questionnaires, which were centrally summarised by the statistical office of the then state. No data was collected in the field. Information from the questionnaires was aggregated at the level of the country, regions, counties and districts.

At the time, the first world national forest inventories were taking place in Scandinavia – in Norway (1919), Sweden (1920), Finland (1921), which, due to the size of the forests and natural conditions, had to rely on sample-based survey approaches. Within this concept, data is collected in selected locations (plots or tracts) by field measurements. Sophisticated procedures are then used to estimate attributes of all forests – including those where no field survey was carried out. In the first half of the 20th century, the concept of a sample-based forest inventory spread from Scandinavia to the other parts of Europe and the world.

In the early 1950s, a specific type of forest inventory was carried out in the then Czechoslovakia. This inventory was based methodologically on extensive renewal or formation of new Forest Management Plans (FMPs) administered by the Czechoslovak State Forests (following confiscation of all private forests after the 1948 communist overthrow), which represented approximately 1.5 million ha. In 1949–1952 the FMPs were intensively updated by the Forestry-Technical Headquarters in Brandýs nad Labem – an organisation which was renamed to Lesproyect after the 1968 Soviet occupation and just before the 1989 revolution to the present Ústav pro hospodářskou úpravu lesů in Brandýs nad Labem (abb. ÚHÚL, it means the Forest Management Insitute). Such an inventory concept is practically a census, where the data obtained by different procedures for all forest stands is summarised, more precisely for those stands that are part of newly created or renewed FMPs. Similar inventories were conducted in 1960 and 1970. Since 1979, the Lesproyect introduced an annual compilation of Summarised Forest Management Plans (SFMPs), which is based on an annual renewal of the FMPs in about a tenth of the forest fund territory. The FMPs are normally processed for a period of ten years. SFMPs data is the main source of information for the annual Report on the State of Forests and Forestry and the principal source of information for international reports on forests by the Czech Republic. The current Summarised Forest Management Plans and Guidelines (SFMPGs) are based on the same methodological principle as inventories from 1952, 1960 and 1970, as well as the SFMPs introduced in 1979, i.e. on a description of forest stands in the framework of the renewal of the FMPs or FMGs (Forest Management Guidelines, for forest property with a total area below 50 ha).

The sample-based NFI

Following the massive development of sampling methods and their application in many areas of human activity after the Second World War, a need arose also in the Czech Republic at the turn of the millennium to apply these methods for assessing the condition and changes of the country's forests.

The execution of the National Forest Inventory is enshrined in Section 28 of Act No 289/1995 Coll., on Forests (the Forest Act). The Government of the Czech Republic approved the implementation of the first, Czech, sample-based NFI by Regulation No. 193/2000 Coll. and its implementation was entrusted to ÚHÚL Brandýs nad Labem. The first NFI cycle, methodologically based on sample surveys carried out in the field, was performed in 2001–2005. After completing field measurements (2001–2004), NFI results were produced and published in 2005. In 2007, a monograph on the execution and results of the NFI1 was published [3]. Detailed results on forest productivity, mainly in terms of available wood resources, were complemented by indicators of forest health, socio-economic and also environmental parameters.

Government Regulation No 247/2009 Coll. of 20 July 2009 launched the second cycle of the National Forest Inventory in the Czech Republic (NFI2). The second NFI was again entrusted to ÚHÚL Brandýs nad Labem. Following the methodological and technological preparations in 2009–2010, a pilot NFI2 survey was conducted in Central Moravian Carpathians (one of the 41 Natural Forest Regions distinguished within the Czech Republic). The piloting aimed at the preparation and verification of data collection and processing technology. The NFI2 field data collection took place in 2011–2015. The first results were published in 2015 [4] and a comprehensive book presenting the full spectrum of NFI2 results appeared in 2019 [2].


[1] Auerhan, J. (1925): Československá statistika: Výsledky statistického šetření o poměrech lesů v republice československé dle stavu roku 1925 s 9 kartogramy. Technická zpráva VII (11), sešit 1, Státní úřad statistický, 1925.

[2] KUČERA, Miloš and ADOLT, Radim, eds. (2019): Národní inventarizace lesů v České republice – výsledky druhého cyklu 2011–2015. Brandýs nad Labem: Ústav pro hospodářskou úpravu lesů Brandýs nad Labem (ÚHÚL), 440 pp., ISBN 978-80-88184-23-2.

[3] ÚHÚL (2007): Národní inventarizace lesů v České republice 2001–2004; Úvod, metody, výsledky. Brandýs nad Labem: Ústav pro hospodářskou úpravu lesů Brandýs nad Labem (ÚHÚL), 224 pp., ISBN 978-80-7084-578-5.

[4] ÚHÚL (2015): XVIII. Sněm lesníků – Národní inventarizace lesů (sborník příspěvků), Brandýs nad Labem: Ústav pro hospodářskou úpravu lesů Brandýs nad Labem (ÚHÚL), 78 pp., ISBN 978-80-905995-7-4.