In 1992, in Southern Poland, large areas of Silesian forests were affected by the country’s largest forest fire. Stands introduced in the 9000-ha post-fire region are currently undergoing early thinning. Due to the scope of these treatments, the chance for their timely implementation is ensured only by the application of cut-to-length (CTL) technologies, i.e., with the use of harvesters and forwarders. The use of CTL technologies may, however, be difficult due to the fire history of these stands, which could affect the bearing capacity of their soils. The objective of this study is to determine the accessibility of stands for forest machines in relation to the bearing capacity of the soils and changes in soil compaction in the post-fire sites. Soil compaction was measured in terms of penetrometer resistance in the stands introduced in the post-fire area in question, as well as in control stands growing on five different soil types. It was shown that in the topsoil layer—from 8 to 18 cm thick depending on the soil type—differences in soil compaction in the post-fire and control areas were relatively small. The impacts of the forest fire—manifested as a significant increase in the compaction of the forest soils—were still visible, but only in the deeper layers of the soil profile. In all of the compared pairs of forest compartments located in the stands regenerated after the fire, significantly higher values of cone indexes (CI) were found. The average value of this index in the post-fire stands was 2.15 MPa, while in the control stands it was 1.60 MPa, which indicates that in both groups of stands the bearing capacity of the soils should not limit the accessibility for vehicles used for timber harvesting and extraction.
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