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A Spatial-Based Decision Support System for wood harvesting management in mountain areas

Accastello, Cristian, Brun, Filippo, Borgogno-Mondino, Enrico
Land use policy 2017 v.67 pp. 277-287
cost analysis, decision support systems, econometric models, forest management, forest stands, forests, geographic information systems, harvesting, logging, managers, multi-criteria decision making, piedmont, stand structure, stumpage, topography, topology, wood, Italy
In this paper, a spatial-based economic model is proposed with the aim of estimating the most likely harvest cost of a forest block in relation to its particular morphological and operating features. This work, which is based on the classical stumpage price assessment method, presents an economic balance of a forest cut, attained by conducting a cost analysis of each logging phase of the different standard harvesting strategies. The study area is in the North-West of Italy, in the Mount Cotolivier forest compartment, in Oulx, Piedmont. The map of the stand structure, which is included in the Oulx Forest Management Plan, was used to locate blocks (areas considered homogeneous according to the stand structure and forest typology) where silvicultural cuts could be scheduled. The feasibility of the selected logging strategies was mapped considering six conditioning factors, of both a topological and a topographic nature. Their influence was weighted by means of a score assignation and integrated in a Multi-Criteria Decision Making procedure. The scores were mathematically combined to calculate a spatial dependent cost-function (Block Exploitation Aptitude, BEA) in which the suitability of each block to be harvested was mapped through a specific strategy. The obtained BEA was then used to estimate the most suitable productivity rate of the harvests of each block. The unitary costs of the strategies were estimated and then compared to find the most profitable one for each block.This model has proved to be effective in generating objective economic results concerning harvest cuts in productive stands in mountainous areas. The proposed methodology simultaneously takes into account different factors and generates feasibility scenarios, in the space domain, for the considered harvesting strategies. The proposed model represents a prototype on which an operational Decision Support System could be based to assist forest managers over the short-medium term.