Title: Forestry operations in the alpine context. Life Cycle Assessment to support the integrated assessment of short forestry - wood supply chain
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC90285
ISSN: 0948-3349
URI: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11367-014-0756-8
DOI: 10.1007/s11367-014-0756-8
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Purpose Biotic resources are considered a key element of bio-economy. In the present study we focus on the forest supply industry, assessing environmental sustainability through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. We explored and evaluated forestry operations in order to support decision-makers in choosing the best operational modes for site-specific conditions. Main aims of the study are: 1) a LCA-based systematic comparative analysis of different operational modes and technological options associated with wood extraction considering site specific conditions; 2) the quantification of impacts associated with transport of wood material. Methods A case study on the alpine region of Italy (Intelvi Valley) is presented and discussed. Different forestry activities were investigated, comparing the traditional operational method with a more mechanized one (advanced mechanization). All operations were included within the system boundaries, from felling to transport to sawmill. Regarding the traditional operational method, different options were evaluated, considering that: 1) the extraction could be performed by cable-yard or winch; and 2) the delimbing phase could be performed before or after extraction phase. Each activity was modeled using primary data, assuring that real forest conditions are modeled and assessed. Results In spite of the expectations associated with advanced mechanization, the hypothesis to choose traditional mechanization was preferable for Intelvi Valley conditions. Fuel consumption and related emissions proved to be the main source of impacts. Sensitivity analyses highlighted that advanced mechanization could be the best method to perform forestry operations, if used in proper conditions (i.e. at the top productivity rate) and that the choice of a short supply chain drastically reduces the impacts induced by long distance transportation. Conclusions the choice of the best technological options should be based on a site-specific and context- related assessment. It is very important to give priority to the operational mode which minimizes the hours necessary to perform each operation. It was also found that the technological option should be chosen according to the geomorphology and topography and the site-specific characteristics of the area investigated, and no one option can be considered as the most suitable for all conditions. Furthermore, current impact assessment methods are still lacking in the evaluation of potential impact to biodiversity in the specific context were the extraction takes place. Further investigations related to the environmental profile of a product will be object of a second study that will concern the design of green furniture pieces, starting from certified wood as raw material.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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