Timber harvesting on fragile ground and impacts of uncertainties in the operational costs
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International Journal of Forest Engineering
Forested wetlands with high water tables are sensitive to disruption from harvesting yet support commercially desired tree species like northern white-cedar. Winter harvest was conducted in Maine, USA, to compare operational costs and productivity of cut-to-length harvesting in cedar (fragile soil) and non-cedar stands (mixedwood, sturdy soil), evaluate uncertainties in harvesting costs and influential factors, and forecast time for post-harvest recovery to pre-harvest volumes. Operational costs were calculated using detailed time and motion studies. Operational costs for the cedar stands were higher than non-cedar. Regression models were developed for harvesters, forwarders, and self-loading trucks; number of logs per cycle was a common factor. Sensitivity analysis showed the dependence of operational costs on labor and fuel costs. Forest Vegetation Simulator projections were used to assess harvest sustainability and suggested the time required to regrow harvested merchantable volume is comparable to cutting cycles recommended for similar treatments in the region. Predicted growth rates exceed those reported regionally on similar sites, suggesting additional study of post-harvest response is warranted. Results highlight site constraints on both operational and stand productivity in lowlands and will be useful for timber harvesting decision-making and forest management planning if combined with assessment of residual stand growth response.
KeywordsCut-to-length; forest vegetation simulator (FVS); logging; northern white-cedar; sensitivity analysis; sustainable forest management
K. George, Alex; Kizha, Anil Raj; Kenefic, Laura. 2022. Timber harvesting on fragile ground and impacts of uncertainties in the operational costs. International Journal of Forest Engineering. 33(1): 12-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/14942119.2022.1988432.