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SILVISMART offers a key step towards digitisation of the European forest sector.

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Digital Efficiency Portal SILVISMART helps deliver precision forestry to Europe.

Public deliverable out now! Establishment of terrain accessibility maps for 4 case study areas

Forest soils can be disturbed or even damaged by a range of activities, most prominently in the form of soil compaction and soil displacement, frequently resulting in rutting. This may cause massive drawbacks on permanent accessibility to forest stands and a deterioration of future growing potential. Also, tree diseases (such as root rot) could spread faster, with negative impacts on future wood quality and timber revenues. In addition, they affect tree stability making the forest less safe and less attractive to other stakeholders, for instance for recreational users.

Other severe impacts of the degradation of soils are of specific importance for forest contractors: Due to high rutting and wheel slippage, harvesting and the cost of timber extraction is directly negatively influenced by higher fuel consumption and hampered productivity. Recently, TECH4EFFECT partner Georg-August-Universität Göttingen finalized results of their first analyses of trafficability maps resulting in the presentation of their Public Deliverable (D4.1) “Terrain Accessibility for 4 Case Study Areas”.

Four study sites in Europe

To keep disturbances of forest soils to a minimum, it is of utmost importance to gain more knowledge on the sensitivity of certain forest areas when planning and conducting harvesting operations with heavy forest machines. Although some trafficability maps are available already, they are not commonly used due to the lack of information on soil bearing capacity and a high level of specificity. TECH4EFFECT partner, the University of Göttingen, describes the principles of handier trafficability maps and shows evaluations of their application at four case study areas.

Fig. 1: Location of the four case study areas in Finland, Germany, Norway and Poland analysed and compared in this public deliverable (© University of Göttingen, base map: OpenStreetMap).

The four study areas are located in Finland, Germany, Norway and Poland (Fig. 1) with each area approximately 50 km² large. The selected areas cover flat to hilly-mountainous terrain types and their mean annual precipitation ranges from around 660 to 860 mm. The study sites are primarily stocked with coniferous tree species, despite the site in Germany, covered by beech.

Depth-to-Water-algorithm (DTW) for avoiding soil disturbance

The generated maps rely on the Depth-to-Water algorithm (DTW), which estimates the vertical distance to areas with appearing surface water or water saturated soils (Fig. 2). The main advantage of these mappings is that permanent and perennial stream networks within the forest soils can be detected. This could help forest machine operators identify sensitive areas with regards to trafficability – based on this heavy machinery can be kept out of certain areas with low soil bearing capacity. For direct access of the operators to DTW-maps, all it would take would be an upload of a particular map to the on-board computer of the machine.

Fig. 2: Map section of the DTW gradients at the Polish study area (© University of Göttingen).

One of the principal investigators, Marian Schönauer, says: “To get better knowledge of actual trafficability of skid trails is really important since it has many different, serious affects for forest operations and forest contractors. DTW-maps are a potentially powerful tool for these applications for the future!”


Although these DTW-maps are based on digital terrain models only, they still have the potential to contribute to the reduction of rutting during forest operations, in particular at sensitive sites. Schönauer says: “With the application of the DTW-maps in forest operations, critical areas in terms of low DTW-index, permanent and perennial streams can be identified and avoided by forest machine operators. A sufficient way to facilitate this can be realised by providing the maps on the on-board computers of forwarders and harvesters. Within TECH4EFFECT we are also focusing on a conjunction with other data, for example precipitation data and weather forecasts.” Future work could explore incorporating additional data sources into the algorithm, such as soil moisture and climatic conditions to improve the accuracy and informative value of used maps to predict soil bearing capacity and trafficability of permanent skid trails in particular.

To read the full text please go to the TECH4EFFECT website and download the deliverable as PDF! If you want to test the maps please contact the University of Göttingen directly at foresteng (a) uni-goettingen.


When preparing this deliverable, the University of New Brunswick (Canada), especially Professor Paul Arp from the Department of Forestry and Environmental Management (I.U.C. Forestry 311, Fredericton), kindly contributed time and resources to calculate high resolutions DTW maps.


Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, DI Marian Schönauer (Dirk Jaeger lab)

If you want to know more about the TECH4EFFECT project please visit our website. For the latest news on precision forestry, forestry management and the sustainable use of natural resources follow us on social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Research Gate, and consider subscribing to our TECH4EFFECT newsletter!

New publication out now! Productivity in Mechanizing Early Tending in Spruce Seedling Stands

Johanna Routa from TECH4EFFECT partner LUKE Finland and two of her colleagues – Yrjö Nuutinen and Antti Asikainen – recently published a study on a comparison of the productivity of mechanized tending with the Cutlink device to manual tending in spruce seedling stands in central Finland.

For this publication “Productivity in Mechanizing Early Tending in Spruce Seedling Stands” the productivity, fuel consumption and quality of seedling stands after pre-commercial thinning were measured.



You can find the full article on the website of the Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering (CROJFE) or as PDF on our website!



Routa J., Nuutinen Y. and A. Asikainen

Productivity in Mechanizing Early Tending in Spruce Seedling Stands

Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering (CROJFE), 2019

Volume 40, issue 1, pages 1-10

Event report – Forestalia 2019

October 26th and 27th the “Forestalia” fair was held at the Piacenza Expo (Italy). On the 26th CONAIBO and CNR, the Italian Research Council, jointly organized a workshop for the Italian forestry sector titled “Forest mechanization in the new Millennium: progress and precision tools for the Italian forest enterprises“.

Introductions, presentations and a live demonstration 

The workshop agenda included an introduction by representatives of the regional and national sector association, including the National President of the main national forest owners’ association, Mr. Caliari (for Federforeste), the National President of the largest farmer’s association, Mr. Coldiretti, and the local representative of another important farmer’s association, Dr. Comellini (for Confagricoltura).

This session was followed by the presentations on the situation of Italian forest enterprises highlighting some best practice examples by Marco Baldini, the President of Piacenza Loggers’ Association and a CONAIBO member, Alberto Cadei, the CONAIBO Technical Director, and Raffaele Spinelli (CNR IBE).

Last part of the meeting was specifically devoted to TECH4EFFECT, with a presentation by Raffaele Spinelli offering a general view of the TECH4EFFECT project and its main results so far, and by Giulio Cosola (CONAIBO) giving a live demonstration of the SILVISMART Efficiency Portal named “SILVISMART Portal – concept, how it works and utility for forest enterprises”. These presentations were followed by an interactive workshop showing the SILVISMART Portal with a Q & A session. The meeting was very well received and attended by more than 100 interested parties from the area.


Some impression of Forestalia 2019 ((c) G. Cosola (CONAIBO) & CNR).


Conclusions of the Q & A with regional foresters

After the debate with foresters at the Forestalia 2019, the following six important conclusions can be made:

  • Push for a more thorough management of Italian forests as currently only about 30 % of the national wood increment is used.
  • Take advantage of the big economic and commercial potential (i. e. new employees, etc.) behind all of this uncut wood.
  • Recover the Italian forest production chain and make it more competitive in a increasing globalized system.
  • Improve forest and property legislation – since in Italy wide forest properties are abandoned creating a world of small forest properties, whose owner often live abroad, sometime don’t know how to actually own a forest overseas and/or simply don’t care about their property.
  • Improve the safety trainings for foresters.
  • Improve big data management to improve the efficiency of forest enterprises – SILVISMART can actually fill this gap if regional specifics are accounted for.

Some more impressions of Forestalia 2019 ((c) G. Cosola (CONAIBO) & CNR).

Event report – TECH4EFFECT at FORMEC 2019

This year marks the 52th edition of the symposium ‘Forestry Mechanization’ or FORMEC as it is more commonly know which was held together with the 42th edition of the Council on Forest Engineering (COFE) in Sopron, Hungary from October 6th to 9th.


Impressions of FORMEC2019 ((c) J. L. Rodriges/RTDS)

Impression from the FORMEC 2019 plenum ((c) J. L. Rodrigues/RTDS)


This year TECH4EFFECT had its’ own session which was held on Monday October 7th. It included following presentations:

  • “Productivity and fuel consumption of heavy forwarders under different configurations: benchmarks from fleet-level long-term records (one million loads)” by Raffaele Spinelli and Angelo Conrado de Arruda Moura.
  • “Productivity and Environmental Impacts of Cable-assisted Logging – A case study in southern Oregon, USA” by  Woodam Chung, Brett Morrissette, Preston Gren, Ben Leshchinsky, Kevin Bladon, Jeff Hatten and John Sessions.
  • “A micro-catchment approach to measuring surface run-off after cable logging” by Bruce Talbot, Omar Mologni, Nicholas Clarke, Marek Pierzchala and Rasmus Astrup.
  • “Assessing Cable Tensile Forces of Winch-Assisted Forwarders on Steep Terrain under Real Working Conditions” by Thomas Holzfeind, Christian Kanzian, Karl Stampfer and Franz Holzleitner.
  • “Factors Affecting Productivity and Utilisation of Winch-Assist Machines: Six Case Studies in New Zealand and Canada” by Cameron Leslie, Colin Koszman, James Hunt, Rien Visser, Hunter Harrill and Dominik Roeser.
  • “Flat and wet: Cable yarding on sensitive soils in Europe – motivations, challenges and potential” by Gernot Erber, Raffaele Spinelli, Giovanna Ottaviani Aalmo, Dirk Jaeger, Marian Schönauer, Stephan Hoffmann, Bruce Talbot and Karl Stampfer.

FORMEC2019 presentation by Erber et al. ((c) J. L. Rodrigues (RTDS).

FORMEC 2019 presentation by G. Erber et al. ((c) J. L. Rodrigues (RTDS).


On Tuesday October 8th our coordinator Rasmus Astrup/NIBIO held a keynote on the “Digitalization of Forest Harvesting: The potential for improved environmental and production efficiency”.

Rasmus Astrup/NIBIO held a keynote at FORMEC 2019

Rasmus Astrup/NIBIO held a keynote at FORMEC 2019 ((c) C. Kanzian.


Several posters on TECH4EFFECT were also presented on:

  • “Smart sensing technology for predicting forest road’s bearing capacity by Franz Holzleitner et al.
  • “Indicator based assessment of trafficability of forest roads” by Marian Schönauer et al.
  • “Coppice after 3 different cutting systems: growth capacity and mortality” by Carolina Lombardini et al.

See the posters in this e-poster presentation!


It could not have been any better for TECH4EFFECT this year as 3 prizes were awarded to the consortium! What a great achievement – congratulations to

  • Markus Konrad (second person from the left) received an operator award by COFE,
  • Thomas Holzfeind received a student communication award and
  • Marian Schönauer received a poster award.

TECH4EFFECT won 3 prizes at FORMEC 2019

TECH4EFFECT won 3 prizes for presentations and at FORMEC 2019 ((c) C. Kanzian) – from left to right: Rasmus Astrup, Markus Konrad, Thomas Holzfeind and Marian Schönauer.


To get more information you can read up here on the full program of FORMEC 2019 and on the conference website you can access the conference proceeding abstracts.

Newsletter October 2019

Just out! Read our latest newsletter:



  • FORMEC 2019 in Sopron/Hungary
  • Publication: Winch-assisted forwarders on steep terrain under real working conditions
  • Publication: Effects of intensified silviculture on timber production and its economic profitability under changing climatic conditions
  • Publication: Sustainability impacts of increased forest biomass feedstock supply
  • Deliverable: Identifying and extending key silvicultural systems
  • Successful field trials by Luke, NIBIO and Ponsse in Finland


If you want to keep up-to-date on Tech4Effect please consider to subscribe to upcoming newsletters here

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Publication: Winch-Assisted Forwarders on Steep Terrain under Real Working Conditions

Winch-assisted forwarders are more and more in use to extract wood on challenging terrain.  In this BOKU study, the tensile force and the machine tilt of two winch-assisted forwarders were observed under real working conditions to assess safety risks.

Read about the results in this CROJFE publication, which is now available open access:

Read the abstract or download the full text!