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Development of a Protocol for Ecoefficient Wood Harvesting on Sensitive Sites

Forest machinery interacts considerably with the environment, which means that an inappropriate selection and operation of harvesters and forwarders can have a strong negative impact on the environment. Harvesting conditions vary considerably across Europe, from the wet peat-based soils of Ireland and Scotland, to the steep escarpments of northern Italy and the frozen soils of Fennoscandia. Many of these sites may be classified as 'sensitive' and a need exists to develop appropriate mechanisation systems for them. By selecting and using forestry machinery in an integrated manner, the negative environmental consequences of wood harvesting and extraction/delivery processes can be minimised. Designers and manufacturers of such machinery also need to be fully aware of the potential environmental consequences of inappropriate machine design, selection and operation on such sites.

This project will develop a protocol for ecoefficient wood harvesting on sensitive sites. The protocol, which will be in the form of guidelines/rules (with appropriate software backup), will enable the machinery to be matched to the site and ensure that all the stages in the wood chain are integrated. The development of this protocol is of great economic and environmental significance to the European forestry industry, particularly at regional level.

To develop a protocol for ecoefficient wood harvesting on sensitive sites that matches the machines to the sites and integrates the stages in the wood chain, from cutting the trees to their extraction from the forest. The protocol will be in the form of guidelines/rules (with supporting software for certain elements in the chain) that optimise the selection, operation and use of the various machines involved, which can be applied across the range of sensitive sites that exist in Europe. The aim is to achieve cost-effective ecoefficient operations that are, at the same time, ergonomically and socially sound.

An Operations Protocol (OP), published as a booklet, has been developed to set out best practice in relation to mechanised wood harvesting in environmentally sensitive sites in Europe. It has been peer-reviewed and represents the best that can be achieved at present scientific standards. The booklet is suitable for use by legislators, management and operators in the field.
The OP specifies how to select and operate wood harvesting machinery in an environmentally efficient and sustainable manner for different site conditions. With the potential to 'kick-start' the development and exploitation of the forest resource in peripheral regions where sensitive sites abound, the OP could generate significant socio-economic benefits. It is also relevent to mountainous areas and places with high risk of erosion.


Scientist responsible for the project

Earlsfort Terrace
2 Dublin
Ireland - IE

Phone: +353 1 7167351
Fax: +353 1 4752119


Project ID QLRT-1999-00991
Organisation University College Dublin (Forest Engineering Unit)
Area 5.3.2
Start date 01 January 2000
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 647 000 €
Total EC contribution   1 276 376 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

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