Comparison of site impacts due to conventional and mechanical harvesting systems
The trend in forest harvesting systems has been towards increased mechanization. The objective of this study was to determine the extent and the causes of soil surface disturbances and compaction due to conventional (hand faller/hand delimber/line skidder) and mechanical (fellerbuncher/ grapple skidder/stroke delimber) harvesting operations on a site in central Saskatchewan. Results showed that under both operations, about 51% of the cutblock area had been trafficked. Causes and extent of impacts were similar under both systems. Average compaction in both cutblocks appeared to be within published limits for root growth. However, the intensity of compaction (final bulk density profiles) under the mechanical system was significantly greater than under the conventional system to depths of about 300 mm. Detrimental compaction levels occurred on about 15% of the sites. Severe impacts were generally associated with slopes and the wetter areas of the site and were attributed to excessive weight transfer of machinery and/or high slippage.
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