The height of tree stumps following mechanized forest operations can be influenced by machine-, tree-, terrain-, and operator-related characteristics. High stumps may pose different economic and technical disadvantages. Aside from a reduction in product recovery (often associated with sawlog potential), leaving high stumps can complicate future entries if smaller equipment with low ground clearance is used, particularly in the case where new machine operating trails are required. The objective of this exploratory study was to examine if correlations existed between the height of tree stumps following mechanized harvesting and the shape of the above-ground root collar, stump diameter, and distance to the machine operating trail. In total, 202 sample stumps of Norway spruce (Picea abies
(L.) Karst.) and the surrounding terrain were scanned with a terrestrial laser scanner. The collected data was processed into a 3D-model and then analyzed. Stump height was compared with different characteristics such as stump diameter at the cut surface, distance to the machine operating trail, number of visible root flares per stump, and the root collar. The number of root flares per stump had a positive influence on stump diameter and height, showing a general trend of increasing diameter and height with the increasing number of root flares. Root angles also had an influence on the stump diameter. The diameter of a stump and the shape of the root collar at the cut surface together had a significant effect on stump height and the model reported explained half of the variation of stump heights. Taken together, these findings suggest that other factors than the ones studied can also contribute in influencing stump height during mechanized harvesting operations. Further investigations, including pre- and post-harvest scans of trees selected for removal, are warranted.
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