An integrated growth and yield model for the tropical high forests of Ghana
A description of the development and subsequent use of an integrated and semi-stochastic computer simulation model, GHAFORGROM (Ghana Forest Growth and Yield Simulation Program), designed to investigate forest tree dynamics and also predict growth and yield of timber in the tropical forests of Ghana is presented. This simulator considers many aspects of natural forest growth including species-group-specific individual tree diameter growth based on competition, mortality and recruitment. The 687 tree species used in these studies have been aggregated into 13 species groups. The simulator is based on a new individual tree-based distance-dependent diameter increment model. Diameter increment of a tree is predicted by a multiplicative composite function of initial diameter, relative tree dominance index, and (or) categorical site index. The based function of diameter increment on diameter is an extension of a power-exponential growth function. The relative tree dominance index of a subject tree is defined in terms of a new competition index. This index is the sum of the ratios of volume of overtopping competing trees to the volume of the subject tree, where the competitor trees are within a radius of 20 m of the subject tree for large-sized trees and 1.5 m of the subject tree for medium- and small-sized trees. The probability of mortality of a tree is defined in the form of a logistic function based on the explanatory variables of functions of diameter and stand density, including basal area per hectare and volume per hectare for each species group. The total amount of recruitment at 10 cm diameter is predicted as a linear function of stand basal area, stand volume and categorical site variables. It is hoped that the model will provide practical steps to improved natural tropical forest management in Ghana, leading to higher sustainable timber yields.