Cable yarding is the most commonly used technique for harvesting timber from steep terrain in central Europe. During the planning process, one important task is to define the cable road layout. This means that the harvesting technology and cable road location must be specified for a given timber parcel. Although managers must minimize harvesting costs, it is even more important that such work on forests reduces the potential for damage to the residual stand and ensures that environmental conditions remain suitable for regeneration. However, current methods are geared only toward minimizing harvesting costs and are computationally demanding and difficult to handle for the end user. These limitations hinder broad application of such methods. Further, the underlying productivity models used for cost estimation do not cover all conditions of an area and they cannot be applied over a whole harvesting area. To overcome these shortcomings, we present: (1) a multiobjective optimization approach that leads to realistic, practicable results that consider multiple conflicting design objectives, and (2) a concept for an easy-to-use application. We compare the practical applicability and performance of the results achieved with multiobjective optimization with those achieved with single-objective (cost-minimal) optimization. Based on these points, we then present and discuss a concept for a user-friendly implementation. The model was tested on two sites in Switzerland. The study produced the following major findings: (1) Single-objective alternatives have no practical relevance, whereas multiobjective alternatives are preferable in real-world applications and lead to realistic solutions; (2) the solution process for a planning unit should include analysis of the Pareto frontier; and (3) results can only be made available within a useful period of time by parallelizing computing operations.
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