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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Environmental Impacts of Boom-Corridor and Selectively Thinned Small-Diameter-Tree Forests

de la Fuente, Teresa; Bergstrom, Dan; Fernandez-Lacruz, Raul; Hujala, Teppo; Krajnc, Nike; Laina, Ruben; Nordfjell, Tomas; Triplat, Matevz; Tolosana, Eduardo


European forest stands of small-diameter trees can provide industries with biomass as an alternative to fossil use. Small-tree harvesting is costly using conventional methods but using accumulating felling heads (AFH) in combination with a novel boom-corridor thinning (BCT) technique can increase harvester productivity and supply cost efficiency. This method has great potential to reduce costs, but its environmental impact compared with selective thinning (ST) needs to be determined. The objectives of this study were therefore to quantify and compare tree and soil damage as well as air, water and soil emissions for both BCT and ST in various European small-diameter-tree forests. Trials were performed in 84 study units (42 replications per thinning technique) across four countries. Damaged trees (with a diameter at breast height >= 7 cm) were measured after thinning and after forwarding. Harvesting emissions were calculated from a life cycle assessment. The percentage of remaining trees that had been damaged by the harvesting processes was 13% and 19% for BCT and ST, respectively, and the difference was significant. BCT exhibited the lowest emissions in all environmental impact categories considered, in all countries. Greenhouse gas emissions were on average 17% lower for BCT. BCT in small-diameter-tree stands therefore reduces the environmental impact of thinning operations compared with conventional methods, and results in less damage to the remaining trees.


first thinning; harvesting damages; GHG emissions; forest biomass; forest operations

Published in

2022, Volume: 14, number: 10, article number: 6075
Publisher: MDPI