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Last update: May 2021

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GIS Coop: GIS Cooperative data

GIS Coop: GIS Cooperative data on forest stand growth
Presidency : INRAE
Coordination : INRAE, Nancy, 54000, France
Experimental sites in metropolitan France (CNPF-IDF, CPFA, FCBA, INRAE, ONF)

The GIS Coop is a French scientific public body group called the "Cooperative of data on forest stand growth", whose purpose is to collect and share scientific data on forest stand growth for the development of growth models and management tools. This objective requires installing, monitoring and measuring multiple local networks of permanent plots according to standardised protocols to best cover the full range of variability in growing conditions (climate, site conditions, silviculture, genetic levels). Since the creation of the GIS Coop in 1994, 6 partners (AgroParisTech, CNPF-IDF, CPFA, FCBA, INRAE, ONF) have received support from the Ministry in Charge of Forestry to develop and manage these networks.

Seven silvicultural systems for important commercial species in France (even-aged stands of Douglas fir, sessile and pedunculate oak, Laricio and maritime pine; mixed stands of sessile oak and Silver fir) are being studied. Each network is composed of experimental sites set up in such a way as to explore the full diversity of ecological contexts (climate, site conditions) of current production areas, and to anticipate their evolution. The strategy of the experimental sites has recently been revised in order to include stratified sampling designs with environmental gradients and to adapt the networks to the new problems posed by global changes.

One main focus is mandatory at each site: changes in stand density over time. A wide range of situations are considered, from maximum competition between trees (self-thinning) to free growth without competition. Highly contrasting scenarios of changes in competition are described quantitatively and this requires long-term monitoring. This first main factor is crossed with secondary factors related to silvicultural treatments in the individual sub-networks: the level of genetic improvement and crop intensification (maritime pine), thinning (Laricio pine), and composition/structure (heterogeneous forests). Each site therefore includes at least three plots subjected to these different silvicultural treatments. At each site, diversity of silvicultural treatment is favoured over repetition of treatments (which occurs among sites). A special focus is placed on the earliest establishment stages (planting, first release or thinning). New plots are planted regularly to stagger installation dates and thus decorrelate the effects of age and date on growth, to gradually complete the networks and to renew harvested or destroyed sites. A total of 185 sites (22 oaks, 31 Douglas fir, 14 pine, 114 maritime pine and 4 mixed stands) for 1206 plots have been installed over the past 20 years.

The GIS Coop networks provide support for multidisciplinary work in various fields (ecology, ecophysiology, soil sciences, etc.).

Services offer

All trees on the plots are described (health status, shape, etc.) and dendrometric measurements (circumference at 1.30m, total height, branch height) are taken every 3 to 10 years. This individual-tree monitoring allows researchers to detect the effects of the target treatments on growth at both tree and stand levels in stands of various ages in various site conditions.

Following a protocol common to all the networks, an ecological assessment is carried out at each site.  This includes floristic inventories of the tree, shrub and herbaceous layers; soil profiles (1.50m deep pits) with a description of each soil horizon in terms of colour, texture, structure, compactness, coarse elements, roots); and physical – (granulometry) and chemical (carbon, nitrogen, pH, limestone, exchangeable ions, phosphorus) soil analyses.

Experimental treatments and technical measures are coordinated by the collaborators (??)at each site: planting, marking for thinnings and monitoring (soil preparation, harvesting??, opening partitions, clearing, managing understorey vegetation). A partnership agreement is signed by each of the site owners.

All the data collected at the GIS Coop sites are formatted, checked and organised and are then stored in a database, CoopFor, managed with PostgreSQL and hosted on an INRAE server.


The networks are coordinated by the Coop ISU Council and managed by five operational groups (one group per network: Laricio pine, maritime Pine, Douglas fir, oak and uneven-aged and mixed forest). Each group is responsible for the sampling programme, the experimental and measurement protocols, installing and monitoring the sites, and qualifying the data before loading into the database. In addition to these 5 operational groups, there is a transversal group, CoopEco, in which all the partners participate. This group is responsible for the ecological assessment protocol (flora, humus, soil) and adapts the sampling programme to take into account current and future pedoclimatic conditions in the development of each of the 5 networks. It coordinates the ecological assessment campaigns for the experimental sites in collaboration with each operational group. Finally, the Technical Unit of the GIS Coop checks the coherence of the data transmitted by the groups to the database, and manages the database, the access rights according to the rules defined by the GIS Coop charter and agreement.

For all the partners combined, an approximate total of 300 engineer days and 600 technician days per year are required to operate these networks. More than 175 people contributed directly to these networks during the first 20 years of their operation.

Operations and data access

Depending on the research or development project, requests may concern access to data already collected by the GIS Coop and/or access to the experimental sites for the collection of new data or samples. Requests should be addressed to the facilitators of the group(s) concerned, who then coordinate the response with the group members who own the data (application forms and contact information are available at:

In all cases, beneficiairies must comply with the rules of the GIS Coop charter. The GIS Coop members interact as much as possible with the user(s) to discuss all aspects of their project. Based on each project’s needs, the GIS Coop members extract and prepare the datasets, provide technical support for access to the experimental sites and ensure communication with the forest owners/managers.

In return for access to data and/or sites, input from the project in question will be negotiated between the GIS Coop group(s) concerned and the project leader, based on the project’s objectives and expected results. The scope of this input will be included in the conditions of access. The intention of the GIS Coop is to develop collaborative synergies with the participating projects to ensure follow-up and valorise this experimental tool of national scope in the long term.

Data access and cost

Depends on the demand.

Available measurements

For some sites: weather station, capacitive soil moisture sensors, microdendrometers, multiplexers and data acquisition units.