Austria is a mountainous country rich in forests: 46% of the land area is covered with forests dominated by coniferous trees; only 36% are broad-leafed and mixed forests. The annual increment in timber is estimated by the forest inventory at about 19 million m3, while the annual harvesting is only approximately 12 million m3 due to the absence of thinning in forest properties which are not managed by expert forest staffs. Another reason for the deficiency is the increase in production forests under irregular management and in protection forests which are sometimes badly opened up by forest roads, so that harvesting cannot be executed at reasonable costs.
According to the size of forest enterprises one can find different harvesting systems in Austria. On the one hand, especially in farmer-owned forest areas, trees are felled and cross-cut by chain-saws and transported by agricultural tractors more or less well adapted for wood extraction; on the other hand, highly and fully mechanized harvesting systems are also used.
Since air pollution and other man-made impacts affect the forest ecosystems - in addition to damages caused by abiotic and biotic factors - changes in silviculture and harvesting techniques became obligatory.
The purpose of this case study is to assess the productivity and costs of a wood harvesting system appropriate to silvicultural systems that provide natural regeneration.
The study was carried out by the Department of Forest Engineering whose head is Univ. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Anton Trzesniowski, University of Agriculture - Vienna, Austria. The field work was carried out by a team consisting of Dr. Norbert Winkler and Dipl.-Ing. Karl Stampfer in cooperation with Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Habsburg - Lothringen on his private forest enterprise. Dr. Norbert Winkler prepared the report.