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The objective of this study was to thoroughly document and establish data on "environmentally sound road construction applying advanced operating methods and tools as currently used in mountainous terrain in Austria" as an alternative to the "traditional road construction methods" in sensitive forest ecosystems.

Since the opening up of forests by forest roads and a permanent forest road network is a prerequisite to introduce sustainable forest practices, another aim of the case study was to demonstrate that forest engineering can serve as a tool for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) if proper road design, construction and maintenance techniques are used. The introduction of these advanced techniques will meet the overall objective of preventing environmental problems associated with forest harvesting operations in mountainous terrain and elsewhere.

The case study on "Environmentally Sound Road Construction in Mountainous Terrain. Applying Advanced Operating Methods and Tools" was initiated by Rudolf Heinrich, Chief, Forest Harvesting, Trade and Marketing Branch, and Joachim Lorbach, Forest Officer, Forest Engineering, both FAO - Rome.

In order to meet the objective of the case study, three construction sites in semi-natural forests in the Alps of Austria with different terrain and formation conditions for road construction were chosen to serve as study objects. All study sites were under continuous supervision of the local forest authorities and the forest engineering department of the Federal Forest Service of Salzburg.

The efficiency of the environmentally sound road construction methods was investigated by work and time studies analysing the work performance of the road construction operations carried out by means of hydraulic excavators and by applying advanced rock drilling and blasting techniques.

The field studies and preparation of this report have been carried out by Norbert Winkler for FAO. The support and information provided by Josef Egger of the Federal Forest Service of Salzburg are highly appreciated. Photographs used in this publication were taken by Norbert Winkler.

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