Influence of timber harvesting costs on the layout of cuttings and economic return in forest planning based on dynamic treatment units

Adrián Pascual, Timo Pukkala, Sergio de-Miguel, Annukka Pesonen, Petteri Packalen


Aim of study: To analyze the influence of harvesting costs on the distribution and type of cuttings when forest management planning is based on the dynamic treatment units (DTUs) approach.

Area of study: A Mediterranean pine forest in Central Spain.

Materials and methods: Airborne laser scanning data were used in area-based approach to predict stand attributes and delineate segments that were used as calculation units. Predicted stand attributes and existing models for diameter distribution and individual-tree growth were used to simulate alternative management schedules for each segment for a 60-year planning horizon divided into three 20-year periods. Three alternative forest planning problems were formulated. They aimed to maximize or minimize net income, or maximize timber production with a constant flow of harvested timber. Spatial goals were used in all cases to enhance the clustering of treatments.

Main results: Maxizing timber production without considering harvesting costs can be costly, even close to the plan that minimized net incomes. Maximizing net incomes led to frequent use of final felling instead of thinnings, placing cuttings near forest roads and creating more compact DTUs than obtained in the plan that maximized timber production.

Research highlights: Compared to previous studies on DTUs, this study integrated felling and forwarding costs, which depended on distance to road and stand attributes, in the process of creating DTUs by means of spatial optimization.


spatial optimization; decision-making; forest economics; forest planning

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2018271-11897