This manual was written on a specific request from FORSPA, Bangkok to prepare a customised training manual supposed to be useful to researchers engaged in forestry research in Bhutan. To that effect, a visit was made to Bhutan to review the nature of the research investigations being undertaken there and an outline for the manual was prepared in close discussion with the researchers. Although the content of the manual was originally requested to be organised in line with the series of research investigations planned under the Eighth Five Year Plan for Bhutan, the format was so designed that the manual is useful to a wider set of researchers engaged in similar investigations. The manual is intended to be a source of reference for researchers engaged in research on renewable natural resources especially forests, agricultural lands and livestock, in designing research investigations, collecting and analysing relevant data and also in interpreting the results. The examples used for illustration of various techniques are mainly from the field of forestry.
After some introductory remarks on the nature of scientific method and the role of statistics in scientific research, the manual deals with specific statistical techniques starting from basic statistical estimation and testing procedures, methods of designing and analysing experiments and also some standard sampling techniques. Further, statistical methods involved in certain specific fields like tree breeding, wildlife biology, forest mensuration and ecology many of which are unique to forestry research, are described.
The description of the methods is not exhaustive because there is always a possibility of utilizing the data further depending on the needs of the investigators and also because refinements in methodology are happening continuously. The intention of the manual has been more on introducing the researchers to some of the basic concepts and techniques in statistics which have found wide application in research in forestry and allied fields.
There was also a specification that the manual is to be written in as simple a manner as possible with illustrations so that it serves as a convenient and reference manual for the actual researchers. For these reasons, description of only simple modes of design and analysis are given with appropriate illustrations. More complicated techniques available are referred to standard text books dealing with the topics. However, every effort has been made to include in the manual as much of material required for a basic course in applied statistics indicating several areas of application and directions for further reading. Inclusion of additional topics would have made it just unwieldy.
Any body with an elementary knowledge in basic mathematics should be able to follow successfully the description provided in the manual. To the extent possible, calculus and matrix theory are avoided and where unavoidable, necessary explanation is offered. For a beginner, the suggested sequence for reading is the one followed for the different chapters in the manual. More experienced researchers can just skim through the initial sections and start working on the applications discussed in the later sections.