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Small-scale wood harvesting technology in Europe

The Small-Scale Wood Harvesting Technology in Europe and its Contribution to Rural Development (SMALLFORE) project has explored development needs and possibilities for small-scale wood harvesting technology, to promote the employment potential and viability of forested rural areas in Europe. Both technological and socio-economic aspects were considered.
The present situation and possibilities of small-scale technology of timber harvesting were analysed with the help of statistics, national reviews and expert work. Possibilities and problems connected with small-scale technology were identified at European level. One of the project ideas was produced as a project proposal for the European Commission. SMALLFORE was carried out as a 'concerted action' project with 13 European countries represented in its consortium.

The general objective of SMALLFORE was to introduce and develop new and feasible small-scale, technology-based wood harvesting concepts to promote the employment and viability of forested rural areas in Europe.
Specific tasks, derived from the project's general objective, were:
1) to review the current situation of small-scale forestry and wood harvesting technology in Europe
2) to demonstrate local and regional small-scale wood harvesting practices
3) to present the development needs and possibilities of small-scale wood harvesting technology
4) to promote technology transfer
5) to plan forthcoming R&D projects.
The nature of forest work (its socio-economic environment, technological expertise and practices in wood harvesting) differs considerably across Europe at national and regional level. Through exchanges of experience, information and good forestry practices, small-scale wood harvesting technologies can be transferred between regions and countries, and adjusted successfully to local environments.
In many European countries, non-industrial private forestry underpins employment in and the viability of rural areas. It was expected that, in different European countries, new small-scale wood harvesting concepts could be developed, combining the work of individual forest owners and co-operatives, and applying small-scale wood harvesting technology to the operations of small rural enterprises in an efficient way.

Progress to Date
The project explored development needs and possibilities for small-scale wood harvesting technology to promote the employment and viability of forested rural areas in Europe. Small-scale wood harvesting technology implied rather inexpensive machinery, the profitability of which does not necessitate full-time work. The project considered both the technological and socio-economic aspects.
The participating organisations drew up reviews of small-scale forestry in their countries, which described priority lists of national challenges and development needs. These were published in Vienna in September 2000. The summarised national results of the three groups (northern Europe, central Europe and south-western Europe) were published in Smallfore's intermediate report, which appeared in the TTS Institute's Publication 380.
More data about wood harvesting in small-scale forestry was collected from the participating countries, on the quality of the available data and on how logging is carried out in the various countries. Projects were examined in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Scotland.
The Smallfore workshops formed a forum where the conclusions of this project were formulated. In the first workshop, partners described the present situation of small-scale forestry in different countries in written (national reviews) and oral presentations. Plans for the data collection were also presented and discussed. The second seminar saw group work sessions in which ideas for the forth-coming projects were refined, including wood harvesting systems in, and the socio-economic aspects of, small-scale forestry. In the third seminar, the results and conclusions of the Smallfore project and the forthcoming project ideas were discussed based on the drafted final report.

The results were published in the TTS Institute's Publications 380/2001 and 385/2002. Three R&D project ideas were identified in the group work of the Smallfore project. The first concerned co-operation among non-industrial private forest owners (NIPF). The second R&D project idea concerned the production and logistics of firewood. The third idea examined the information flow, like training and education, directed at small-scale forest owners.
A pilot Smallbase database was created to distribute the information on the machines and equipment, and their distributors.
A variety of problems in European small-scale forestry were found in the national reviews. Many are common within Europe, yet the conditions vary from one country to another. Challenges for European small-scale forestry in the future were found in the growing interest for the multi-purpose use of forests. This interest was seen as a possibility for promoting the use of small-scale wood harvesting technology. Terrain damage can be reduced with the help of this type of technology, especially in central and southern Europe where the soil does not freeze during the winter.
The diversity of projects with small-scale technology/rural development dimensions identified by the Smallfore members illustrates that there are many different ways of supporting small-scale technology and rural development amongst small-scale forest owners. The most successful projects all involved building social, economic and technical capacity through innovative institutional alliances and this factor, the creation of dynamic local partnerships or other related institutional structures, seems to drive projects further forward more than any other single factor.


Scientist responsible for the project

Mr AUVO Kaivola
Melkonkatu 16 A Box 28
FIN-00211 Helsinki
Finland - FI

Phone: +358 929041200
Fax: +358 96922084


Project ID QLRT-1999-01493
Organisation Work Efficiency Institute, TTS-Institute
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 March 2000
Duration (months) 30
Total cost 270 408 €
Total EC contribution   270 408 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners

  • Dalarna University (DU) (former Högskolan Dalarna, DUC), Sweden - SE
  • Technische Universität München (TU-München)Lehrstuhl Forstliche Arbeitswissenschaft & Angewandte Informatik, Germany - DE
  • Ústav pro hospodárskou úpravu lesu Brandýs nad Labem (ÚHÚL Brandýs) Forest Management Institute, Czech Republic (The) - CZ
  • The Estonian Agricultural University (EAU) Faculty of forestry and Land Engineering, Estonia - EE
  • Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute (DFLRI) Department of Forestry, Denmark - DK
  • University of Aberdeen (UNIABDN) Department of Agriculture and Forestry, United Kingdom (The) - GB
  • Forestry Engineering College, University of Vigo (E.U.I.T. Forestal), Spain - ES
  • Universität für Bodenkultur (BOKU) Institute of Forest and Mountain Risk Engineering, Austria - AT

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