When planning and undertaking logging operations in the plains, French forest companies are often confronted with multiple challenges related to soil bearing capacity and respective sensitiveness towards compaction and rutting.

Soil-risk mitigation requires strong engagement from both forest managers and logging operators, from early and macro planning to the final site evaluation after haulage. The need for knowledge-based and open dialog is present every step of the way, in addition to the operational tool the forest companies might be using.

Results of wheeling tests deliver new scientific evidence

Mineral forest soil deformations under pressure were modeled. “Wheeling tests” with different types of forwarders and skidders were undertaken with French partners (ONF, F&BE, IP-CBB, SEFE) and local logging contractors. Major highlights for silty soils are:

  • Improved capacity to predict rutting risks
  • Threshold values of terrain trafficability related to machine parameters (total weight and number of pass) and soil moisture (critical volumetric water content)

New knowledge expected from this scientific part of the EFFORTE work program will help maintain the long term trafficability of permanent logging trails on which traffic by forest machines is frequent whereas soil recovery is limited at best between operations (7 – 10 years).

New recommendations under discussion with practitioners

Dialogue together with forest industry is organized in June to co-produce the recommendations based on research results. It is indeed necessary to consider a sociological dimension related to the practitioners’ and forest owners’ capacity to accept aesthetical modifications of the ground conditions. Hence, a compromise must be balanced between robust scientific knowledge, acceptable soil disturbance on permanent logging trails and human acceptance to change.


Knowledge-based capacity building

Capacity building is essential for practitioners to improve multi-site organization and seasonal distribution of mechanized logging operations. Operators tutorial are designed for that purpose with the French partners, based on the lessons learnt from the on-going research.

Seven workshops were organized with International Paper – CBB, Forêts et Bois de l’Est, ONF and BURGO – SEFE to test different capacity building modalities. Adaptations were implemented by FCBA as operators’ tutorials were tested with the participants:

  • Scientific evidence, technical contents and respective steering methods were adjusted to take into account how receptive the target population had been during the previous workshops.
  • Actual status quo in the area and the empirical experience within the community being targeted had to be considered.

Capacity building were tested as a combination of participative workshops, indoor presentations and field demonstration

Within the participating companies, the word of mouth and internal communication already resulted in three local demands for similar capacity building activities and dialog facilitation. Expectations are high towards EFFORTE’s final results, including the lessons learnt in the other European partners. There is no doubt they will be put to good use to cope with future challenging operational conditions!