Special Issue "Technologies, Applications and Assessments for Proper Sustainable Forest Operations (SFO)"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Rachele Venanzi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, Tuscia University, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Interests: sustainable forest operations; reduced impact logging; QBS-ar index; sustainable forest management; forest mechanisation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Janine Schweier
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Research Group Sustainable Forestry, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) Address Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
Interests: Ecosystem services, decision support systems, life cycle assessment; sustainability impact assessment; methods and tools for climate adapted strategic and operational planning of forest management; unpredictable use of wood; carbon costs, -storage & sequestration
Prof. Dr. Rodolfo Picchio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Interests: Forest utilizations; Logging activities; Reduced impact logging; Sustainable forest management; Forest restoration systems
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on the "Technologies, Applications, and Assessments for Proper Sustainable Forest Operations (SFO)". One of the main topics will be to promote knowledge for future relations between forest logging, environmental protection, and management of forests in order to provide timber at reasonable costs and other ecosystem services, such as recreation and conservation as well as biodiversity. Only efficient planning and management of forest operations and the implementation of sustainable supply chains will offer high social and environmental benefits and provide various ecosystem services in the long term. These aspects can be guaranteed only through sustainable forest management in synergy with SFO, tools essential for proper environmental protection, and they are mandatory in order to maintain forests and their multiple functions. In particular, forest operations are interesting but delicate issues to be analyzed and evaluated in order to achieve real sustainability.

Authors are invited to contribute to this Special Issue with original papers covering the following subjects:

  • Sustainability in forest operations;
  • Impact assessment due to forest logging and management;
  • Innovative forest harvesting systems, technologies, and techniques
  • The role and potential of precision forestry (robotics, LIDAR, etc.) for improving management;
  • Sustainability of wood supply chains;
  • Environmentally friendly forest operations and reduced impact logging (RIL);
  • How can forest operations be adjusted to preserve the levels of biodiversity necessary to keep forests healthy and productive?

We also encourage studies from all fields, including experimental studies, monitoring approaches, and models, on silviculture and logging activities to contribute to this Special Issue in order to promote knowledge and future strategies for effective and efficient SFO.

Dr. Rachele Venanzi
Dr. Janine Schweier
Prof. Dr. Rodolfo Picchio
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sustainability
  • Forest management
  • Forest Operations
  • Reduced-impact logging (RIL) techniques
  • Low impact logging
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Ecological indicator
  • Ecosystem services
  • Silviculture

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Soil Moisture on Harvesting Operations in Populus spp. Plantations: Specific Focus on Costs, Energy Balance and GHG Emissions
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4863; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094863 - 26 Apr 2021
Viewed by 249
Abstract
Background: Poplar tree plantations for wood production are part of a worldwide growing trend, especially in moist soil sites. Harvesting operations in moist sites such as poplar plantations require more study for detailed and increased knowledge on environmental and economic aspects and issues. [...] Read more.
Background: Poplar tree plantations for wood production are part of a worldwide growing trend, especially in moist soil sites. Harvesting operations in moist sites such as poplar plantations require more study for detailed and increased knowledge on environmental and economic aspects and issues. Methods: In this study, the effects of soil moisture content (dry vs. moist) on productivity, cost, and emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) caused by operations of different harvesting systems (chainsaw-skidder and harvester-forwarder) were evaluated in three poplar plantations (two in Italy and one in Iran). Results: The productivity (m3 h−1) of both systems in the dry sites were significantly higher (20% to 30%) than those in the moist sites. Production costs (€ m−3) and GHG emissions (g m−3) of both systems in the dry sites were also significantly lower than those in the moist sites. The productivity of the harvester-forwarder system was about four times higher, and its production cost was 25% to 30% lower than that of the chainsaw-skidder system, but the calculated GHG emissions by harvester-forwarder system was 50–60% higher than by the chainsaw-skidder system. Conclusions: Logging operations are to be avoided where there are conditions of high soil moisture content (>20%). The result will be higher cost-effectiveness and a reduction in the emission of pollutants. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Harvester Productivity in Inclined Terrain with Extended Machine Operating Trail Intervals: A German Case Study Comparison of Standing and Bunched Trees
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9168; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219168 - 04 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 447
Abstract
The complexity of highly structured forests with multiple tree species, especially when coniferous and broadleaved tree species are mixed, as well as stands with extended machine operating trail spacing and inclined terrain, create challenging operational conditions for mechanized timber harvesting and extraction. Motor-manually [...] Read more.
The complexity of highly structured forests with multiple tree species, especially when coniferous and broadleaved tree species are mixed, as well as stands with extended machine operating trail spacing and inclined terrain, create challenging operational conditions for mechanized timber harvesting and extraction. Motor-manually felling trees within the midfield and bunching them at the machine operating trails, prior to the arrival of a harvester-forwarder system, is a complex operation. The aim of this study was to assess and compare tethered harvester productivities of a thinning operation, for felling and processing standing trees and for processing bunched trees, through a time study in forest stands with 40-m distances between machine operating trails. Total operational costs of the analyzed thinning operation were 69 €/m3o.b., including extraction using a multiple forwarder approach. Tree species, merchantable timber volume, and whether the trees were standing or presented as bunched logs all had a significant effect on the harvester time consumption. Moreover, harvester positioning time was significantly shorter when trees were already bunched at the machine operating trail. While the productivity of standing or bunched spruce trees did not differ significantly between the cases (approximately 18 m3o.b./productive machine hours excluding all delays (PMH0)), the productivity of standing broadleaved tree species (8.3 m3o.b./PMH0) was much lower than that of bunched trees (15.5 m3o.b./PMH0). Thus, the described timber harvesting and extraction system may be a valuable option for forest stands with high proportion of broadleaved trees. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Performance Comparison for Two Cable Extraction Machines in a Larix kaempferi (Lamb.) Carr. Plantation
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8864; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218864 - 27 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 492
Abstract
Forests in Korea are mainly located in steep mountainous areas, where small-shovel-based extraction technology is widely used, with the level of mechanization undoubtedly low due to financial limitations. On this steep terrain, a better approach may be to use cable yarders, which can [...] Read more.
Forests in Korea are mainly located in steep mountainous areas, where small-shovel-based extraction technology is widely used, with the level of mechanization undoubtedly low due to financial limitations. On this steep terrain, a better approach may be to use cable yarders, which can offer high revenues through cable-based extraction. Therefore, improving the efficiency of cable yarding activities in good-quality timber forests is necessary. The main objectives of this study were to (1) evaluate the productivity and cost of a cable yarder operation for tree-length clearcut treatment of a Larix kaempferi (Lamb.) Carr. stand and (2) compare the productivity efficiency of two yarder (K301-4 and HAM300) types. The productivity rates of the K301-4 ranged from 10.2 to 12.5 m3/productive machine hours, with corresponding costs of US $12.6–15.4 /m3. The productivity of the HAM300 was 26% lower than that of the K301-4 for a 30% lower cycle log volume while yarding and a comparable lateral distance. This study provides insights to support production and management decisions in the forest supply chain associated with planning cable-yarding operations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prediction of Fuel Loading Following Mastication Treatments in Forest Stands in North Idaho, USA
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7025; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177025 - 28 Aug 2020
Viewed by 486
Abstract
Fuel reduction in forests is a high management priority in the western United States and mechanical mastication treatments are implemented common to achieve that goal. However, quantifying post-treatment fuel loading for use in fire behavior modeling to forecast treatment effectiveness is difficult due [...] Read more.
Fuel reduction in forests is a high management priority in the western United States and mechanical mastication treatments are implemented common to achieve that goal. However, quantifying post-treatment fuel loading for use in fire behavior modeling to forecast treatment effectiveness is difficult due to the high cost and labor requirements of field sampling methods and high variability in resultant fuel loading within stands after treatment. We evaluated whether pre-treatment LiDAR-derived stand forest characteristics at 20 m × 20 m resolution could be used to predict post-treatment surface fuel loading following mastication. Plot-based destructive sampling was performed immediately following mastication at three stands in the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest, Idaho, USA, to correlate post-treatment surface fuel loads and characteristics with pre-treatment LiDAR-derived forest metrics, specifically trees per hectare (TPH) and stand density index (SDI). Surface fuel loads measured in the stand post-treatment were consistent with those reported in previous studies. A significant relationship was found between the pre-treatment SDI and total resultant fuel loading (p = 0.0477), though not between TPH and fuel loading (p = 0.0527). SDI may more accurately predict post-treatment fuel loads by accounting for both tree number per unit area and stem size, while trees per hectare alone does not account for variations of tree size and subsequent volume within a stand. Relatively large root-mean-square errors associated with the random forest models for SDI (36%) and TPH (46%) suggest that increased sampling intensity and modified methods that better account for fine spatial variability in fuels resulting from within-stand conditions, treatment prescriptions and machine operators may be needed. Use of LiDAR to predict fuel loading after mastication is a useful approach for managers to understand the efficacy of fuel reduction treatments by providing information that may be helpful for determining areas where treatments can be most beneficial. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Rut Depth Evaluation of a Triple-Bogie System for Forwarders—Field Trials with TLS Data Support
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6412; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166412 - 10 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 544
Abstract
In 2019, the machine manufacturer HSM presented a forwarder prototype for timber hauling in cut-to-length processes fitted with a new 10-wheel triple-bogie (TB) setup approach aimed at promoting sustainable forest management by reducing the ecological impact of forest operations, especially under soft-soil working [...] Read more.
In 2019, the machine manufacturer HSM presented a forwarder prototype for timber hauling in cut-to-length processes fitted with a new 10-wheel triple-bogie (TB) setup approach aimed at promoting sustainable forest management by reducing the ecological impact of forest operations, especially under soft-soil working conditions. The purpose of our study was to assess the resulting soil-protection effect emerging from additional wheel-contact surface area. For this, the rut development under known cumulative weight, related to the soil conditions of shear strength and moisture content, was recorded for later comparison. Additional terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) was used to generate a multi-temporal digital terrain model (DTM) in order to enhance the data sample, assess data quality, and facilitate visualization of the impact of local disturbance factors. In all TB configurations, a rut depth of 10 cm (5.8–7.2 cm) was not exceeded after the hauling of a reference amount of 90 m3 of timber (average soil shear strength reference of 67 kPa, volumetric water content (VMC) 43%). Compared to a reference dataset, all observed configurations ranked in the lowest-impact machine categories on related soil stability classes, and the configuration without bogie tracks revealed the highest machine weight to weight distribution trade-off potential. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Applications of GIS-Based Software to Improve the Sustainability of a Forwarding Operation in Central Italy
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5716; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145716 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 650
Abstract
Reducing potential soil damage due to the passing of forest machinery is a key issue in sustainable forest management. Limiting soil compaction has a significant positive impact on forest soil. With this in mind, the aim of this work was the application of [...] Read more.
Reducing potential soil damage due to the passing of forest machinery is a key issue in sustainable forest management. Limiting soil compaction has a significant positive impact on forest soil. With this in mind, the aim of this work was the application of precision forestry tools, namely the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and Geographic Information System (GIS), to improve forwarding operations in hilly areas, thereby reducing the soil surface impacted. Three different forest study areas located on the slopes of Mount Amiata (Tuscany, Italy) were analyzed. Extraction operations were carried out using a John Deere 1410D forwarder. The study was conducted in chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) coppice, and two coniferous stands: black pine (Pinus nigra Arn.) and Monterey pine (Pinus radiata D. Don). The first stage of this work consisted of field surveys collecting data concerning new strip roads prepared by the forwarder operator to extract all the wood material from the forest areas. These new strip roads were detected using a GNSS system: specifically, a Trimble Juno Sb handheld data collector. The accumulated field data were recorded in GIS Software Quantum GIS 2.18, allowing the creation of strip road shapefiles followed by a calculation of the soil surface impacted during the extraction operation. In the second phase, various GIS tools were used to define a preliminary strip road network, developed to minimize impact on the surface, and, therefore, environmental disturbance. The results obtained showed the efficiency of precision forestry tools to improve forwarding operations. This electronic component, integrated with the on-board GNSS and GIS systems of the forwarder, could assure that the machine only followed the previously-planned strip roads, leading to a considerable reduction of the soil compaction and topsoil disturbances. The use of such tool can also minimize the risks of accidents in hilly areas operations, thus allowing more sustainable forest operations under all the three pillars of sustainability (economy, environment and society). Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Sustainability of Forest-Based Bioenergy—A Case Study of Students Surveyed at a University in Finland
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5667; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145667 - 15 Jul 2020
Viewed by 525
Abstract
With the increasing use of forest biomass, concerns about negative impacts have been raised in the debate. The aim of this study was to find out the attitude of university students towards the energy use of forest-based biomass and how different areas of [...] Read more.
With the increasing use of forest biomass, concerns about negative impacts have been raised in the debate. The aim of this study was to find out the attitude of university students towards the energy use of forest-based biomass and how different areas of sustainable forest operations were addressed. The survey was conducted over two years (2018–2019) with both full-time students at university and distance learning students who study alongside their work. Background information such as gender, nationality and field of study was collected from students. Most of the students currently considered the energy use of forest biomass to be sustainable. Many replies stressed that the situation could change if the use of forests is increased from the present circumstances. The main factors mentioned that led to forest-based bioenergy being sustainable were positive felling balance, compliance with forest certification, use of waste fractions and implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) directive, while the loss of biodiversity, over-exploitation of forests, C debt and the cascading principle were factors that led to forest-based bioenergy being unsustainable. Student background variables had no effect on responses except for the field of study. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Postural Risk in Manual Planting Operations of Poplar: Two Options Compared
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5531; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145531 - 09 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 739
Abstract
Poplar forests are cultivated worldwide on extended areas, contributing to the provision of wood for industries. Their management is intensive, especially in planting operations which are done, in many parts of the world, by the use of manual labor. This situation raises the [...] Read more.
Poplar forests are cultivated worldwide on extended areas, contributing to the provision of wood for industries. Their management is intensive, especially in planting operations which are done, in many parts of the world, by the use of manual labor. This situation raises the question on their sustainability from an ergonomics point of view. Particularly, the postural risk is in question, as uncomfortable work postures may cause musculo-skeletal disorders. Two types of planting operations (large cutting—CP and bare-root seedling—SP) were selected as representatives for the evaluation of postural risks which was carried out for 14 subjects. Based on the analysis of approximately 14,500 images (approximately 67 h of field study), the postural risk indexes were estimated at 259 and 250 for the CP and SP, respectively. No significant differences were found between the operations, but the high share of effective planting tasks and their associated postural risk indexes generated these concerning results. The main conclusion is that these kinds of planting operations need postural improvement and ways for doing so should be researched in the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Disturbance and Recovery after Coppicing a Mediterranean Oak Stand: The Effects of Silviculture and Technology
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4074; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104074 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 779
Abstract
Traditional coppice management system is one of the most debated topics in the Mediterranean area, as it is a forest management system that accounts for over 23 million hectares. Coppicing is considered the oldest form of sustainable forest management. Its past and current [...] Read more.
Traditional coppice management system is one of the most debated topics in the Mediterranean area, as it is a forest management system that accounts for over 23 million hectares. Coppicing is considered the oldest form of sustainable forest management. Its past and current widespread popularity is mainly due to its capacity to positively contribute to the rural economy and ecosystem services. This research aimed at assessing the effect of coppicing on soil characteristics, understanding a possible treatment return time, and evaluating the implementation of proper sustainable forest operations (SFOs) in order to have a better understanding of the disturbance caused by silvicultural treatment and forest operations with two different harvesting techniques. The results demonstrated that physical, chemical, and biological soil features were partially disturbed by the coppicing. Both silvicultural treatment and forest operations influenced soil disturbance. The least impactful technique was extraction by winch, while forwarding resulted in heavier alterations of soil characteristics. It took about five years for the soil to recover its original pre-harvest conditions when the disturbance was caused by the silvicultural treatment alone (non-trafficked areas) and about eight to nine years when the disturbance was the cumulated effect of silvicultural treatment and logging activity (trafficked areas). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Recovery Assessment after Timber Harvesting Based on the Sustainable Forest Operation (SFO) Perspective in Iranian Temperate Forests
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2874; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072874 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 713
Abstract
Minimizing the impact of timber harvesting on forest stands and soils is one of the main goals of sustainable forest operation (SFO). Thus, it is necessary to make an accurate assessment of forest operations on soil that is based on the SFO perspective. [...] Read more.
Minimizing the impact of timber harvesting on forest stands and soils is one of the main goals of sustainable forest operation (SFO). Thus, it is necessary to make an accurate assessment of forest operations on soil that is based on the SFO perspective. The present study was conducted according to SFO principles to investigate the time required for the natural recovery of soil after disturbance by skidding operations in some Iranian forests. The physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil found in abandoned skid trails from different time periods were compared with undisturbed forest soils. The soil bulk density, the penetration resistance, and the microporosity of a 25-year-old skid trail were 8.4–27.4% and 50.4% greater, and the total porosity, macroporosity, and soil moisture were 1.9–17.1% and 4.6% lower than the undisturbed area. In a 25-year-old skid trail, the values of pH, Electrical conductivity (EC), C, N, available P, K, Ca, and Mg, earthworm density, and biomass were lower than in the undisturbed area, and the C/N ratio value was higher than in the undisturbed area. High traffic intensity and slope classes of 20–30% in a three-year-old skid trail had the greatest impact on soil properties. In order to have sustainable timber production, SFO should be developed and soil recovery time should be reduced through post-harvest management operation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Experimental Study Based on Game Theory on the Private, Voluntary Supply Mechanisms of Goods for Forestry Infrastructure from the Perspective of Quasi-Public Goods
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2808; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072808 - 02 Apr 2020
Viewed by 579
Abstract
The existing research on forestry infrastructure has focused on suggestions from other areas of forestry research: that forestry infrastructure should be completed and improved. However, research on forestry infrastructure is relatively rare. In the real world, there are various problems with creating forestry [...] Read more.
The existing research on forestry infrastructure has focused on suggestions from other areas of forestry research: that forestry infrastructure should be completed and improved. However, research on forestry infrastructure is relatively rare. In the real world, there are various problems with creating forestry infrastructure, such as complex approval procedures for facility construction, irrational facility layout, insufficient funding for facility construction, and conflicts between the nature of land used for facility construction and the nature of forest land. This paper uses game theory to analyze the behavior of forest infrastructure goods suppliers. Relevant parameters related to forest area infrastructure were designed, including communication, environmental certainty, information feedback, and reward and punishment mechanisms, and experimental economics methods were used to simulate accurate behavior regarding the supply of goods. Then, the key factors that affect the provision of quasi-public goods for forestry infrastructure were studied. At the end of the paper, some targeted suggestions that distinguish rural infrastructure from general infrastructure are given. Full article
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