Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2019

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Language

English

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Anil Raj Kizha.

Second Committee Member

Ivan J. Fernandez

Third Committee Member

Laura S. Kenefic

Abstract

Though the timber harvesting industry in Maine ranges over two centuries, the state has more forest cover than a century ago. Currently, some of the crucial challenges faced by the forest management industry in Maine and elsewhere in the northeastern US are increasing costs of forest operations, diminishing monetary returns and falling markets.

The major goal of this study was to evaluate the production economics of timber harvesting frameworks under different silvicultural prescriptions common to the region. For which, two field studies were conducted at two different locations in Maine, US. The first field study (Study I) was conducted in Grandfalls township, central Maine during July–August 2017. The primary objective of this study was to estimate and compare the operational productivity and costs of harvesting under different silvicultural prescriptions that included two variants each of partial harvest (PH) and clearcut (CC), employing a whole-tree (WT) harvest method. Other objectives included estimating the costs associated with best management practices (BMPs) implementation and evaluation of the important factors influencing production economics of harvesting. The second part of the field study (Study II) was conducted in the Penobscot Experimental Forest, central Maine during February–March 2018. As the majority of the stand establishment in Maine is dependent on natural regeneration for continuous replenishment of stands, the objectives of the study were to evaluate and compare production economics of a hybrid tree-length (Hyb TL) harvesting method to a conventional WT method in a strip CC. The study also focused on comparing at-stump and at-landing processing of logs along with estimation of best management practice (BMP) implementation costs.

Detailed time-motion studies were conducted, and machine rate calculations were done for productivity and cost estimation. Variables collected included stand features, delay free cycle times of machines, and predictor variables such as distance travelled, and number of logs handled per cycle. Results from the Study I followed an expected trend of PH operations being costlier than CC (nearly 54% higher). For Study II, Hyb TL method was found to be comparatively less costly than WT harvesting (8% less). Costs of at-stump and at-landing costs were comparable ($2.66 m-3 and $2.73 m-3). Trends in costs were similar for both studies with extraction being the most expensive component (50–70% of total costs). BMP costs quantified for both studies were in the range of $10 and $52 PMH−1 or $1.0–$3.7 m−3 of wood harvested. Results showed that, BMPs can be coupled to industrial harvesting operations without considerably affecting the operational costs.

Inferences from this study can help operations managers, researchers, and landowners to better understand the impacts of alternative harvesting scenarios in this region and will help them in pinpointing areas that needs improvement.

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