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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Sustainability Assessment of Alternative Thinning Operations in Mediterranean Softwood Plantations

1
Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Werthmannstraße 6, 79085 Freiburg, Germany
2
CNR–IVALSA, Via Madonna del Piano 10, I-50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy
3
Central-East and South-East European Regional Office of the European Forest Institute, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Feistmantelstr. 4, A-1180 Vienna, Austria
4
Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Peter-Jordan-Strasse 82, A-1190 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(7), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070375
Received: 20 April 2018 / Revised: 13 June 2018 / Accepted: 15 June 2018 / Published: 21 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Management of Pine Forests)
Mediterranean pines account for 14,000 ha in Tuscany alone, where they form large and homogeneous stands and represent an important resource for the forest economy. Among the harvesting systems applied to thinning operations, the most popular are whole-tree and cut-to-length harvestings. Both systems can be deployed with different levels of mechanization. The decision about which system might be the best option in a specific case possibly leads to conflicts due to different management goals, for instance when the shift from cut-to-length to whole-tree harvesting systems results in a decrease of costs and an increase of environmental burdens. Thus, an accurate determination of economic, environmental and social indicators is crucial to make balanced decisions. With that in mind, we carried out a sustainability impact assessment of typical forest-wood chain alternatives applied to young Mediterranean pine plantations and made a comparative evaluation by means of multi-criteria analyses. Trials were carried out in umbrella pine (Pinus pinea L.) plantations in Tuscany. The analyzed cases considered four thinning operations and included the processes of harvesting, extraction and chipping. In the analysis, 12 indicators were considered (e.g., global warming potential, fatal accidents). Results of the investigation allow quantifying possible sustainability impacts and, thus, supporting management decisions. View Full-Text
Keywords: motor-manual harvesting; mechanized harvesting; WT harvesting; CTL harvesting; energy chips; life cycle assessment; social indicators; sustainable forest management; decision support; multi-criteria analysis motor-manual harvesting; mechanized harvesting; WT harvesting; CTL harvesting; energy chips; life cycle assessment; social indicators; sustainable forest management; decision support; multi-criteria analysis
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Schweier, J.; Spinelli, R.; Magagnotti, N.; Wolfslehner, B.; Lexer, M.J. Sustainability Assessment of Alternative Thinning Operations in Mediterranean Softwood Plantations. Forests 2018, 9, 375.

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