Investigations were carried out into the effects of site characteristics on the growth rate of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) (Carr.), in the Buchan area of north-east Scotland, using General Yield Class (GYC) as a site index. The degree of correlation between GYC and Land Classification for Forestry (LCF) class was also investigated. Data collected from 90 temporary sample plots were analysed using Principal Components Analysis and stepwise multiple regression. A model was constructed which accounted for 44.9 per cent of variation in GYC, with an f statistic significant at the 1 per cent level. For a 95 per cent confidence interval, any single new prediction made by the model should be within +/-3.6 m3 ha-1 yr-1 of the true value. Validation using independent data from a further 10 temporary sample plots gave a mean difference between observed and expected values of only 0.25 m3 ha-1 yr-1. No significant difference was found between the means of GYC recorded from plots on LCF classes 4, 5 and 6. The results of the study could be used to support the process of conversion of agricultural land to conifer plantation, and are pertinent to the development of more proactive policies by local authorities towards consultative rural development planning procedures
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