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A Survey of Logging Contract Rates in the Southern European Alps

Spinelli, Raffaele, Visser, Rien, Riond, Catherine, Magagnotti, Natascia
Small-scale forestry 2017 v.16 no.2 pp. 179-193
bark, contractors, cost effectiveness, data collection, forests, harvesting, logging, markets, regression analysis, surveys, trees, Alps region, France, Italy
A survey of harvesting contracts was conducted in the Alpine regions of France and Italy. The main goal was to produce a benchmark for the harvesting contract rates in the area that may guide forest owners and logging contractors when making their harvesting decisions. The sample included 443 contracts, evenly distributed between France and Italy. The mean tract size was 9.17 ha, while the mean lot size was slightly larger than 500 m³ under bark (ub). Mean removal intensity varied from 70 to 120 m³ ub ha⁻¹, depending on country and harvesting technique (i.e. ground-based or cable-yarder based). Mean contract rate was 35€ m⁻³ ub, but individual contract rates varied significantly between countries and for different harvest techniques. Regression analysis showed that contract rate was strongly affected by tree size, extraction distance and harvest technique. Contrary to expectation, neither tract size nor lot size had any effect on contract rate. This may be explained by the widespread use of mobile operations that are specifically designed for handling small lots and incur minimum relocation cost. The technical factors explored in the study could only explain 40 % of the variability in the dataset, and therefore at least part of the variability must derive from non-technical factors such as local market dynamics and national economics. The study did find significant differences between countries. In particular, ground-based operations were more cost efficient in France, and cable yarder-based operations in Italy.