A multi-criteria decision support tool was developed to optimise stump harvesting for energy in Sweden. The decision tool takes account of multiple, sometimes conflicting, criteria relating to stump harvest; energy and climate, economics, biodiversity, and soil and water. Data on harvested stems are used as primary input data in the tool. Such data are routinely collected in harvester computers. The tool effectively deals with mixed sets of data; quantitative harvest data are re-calculated to metric (e.g. stump biomass), and qualitative data (e.g. biodiversity implications) are incorporated. A digital terrain map derived from air-borne laser scanning provides basic data for estimating soil wetness, while digital maps of water courses, key habitats and protected areas, or other sensitive habitats, are used to identify potentially and practically harvestable stumps.
In four sub-models, an index from 0 to 10 is calculated for each stump, with 0 representing ‘Not at all suitable’ and 10 ‘Highly suitable for extraction’. Through this, a stump of high value for wood-living species is assigned a low index in the biodiversity sub-model and a large, easily accessible stump is assigned a high index in the economic sub-model. When calculating the net index, the sub-indices can be weighted according to the preferences of the end-user.
An energy and climate sub-model incorporates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forest operations and the effect of advancing GHG emissions when stump biomass is incinerated instead of being left to decompose. In the economic sub-model the potential monetary return from each stump is calculated based on estimated revenue from harvested stump biomass and the costs of stump harvesting and forwarding operations (based on cost functions and GI
S calculations of transport distances).
The biodiversity sub-model considers four types of wood-dependent organisms (lichens, mosses, insects and fungi) in terms of their habitat requirements, vulnerability, sun exposure preferences, locality, etc. A panel of external experts has drawn up a grading scale of stump values for the different taxonomic groups. The proximity to key habitats and exposure to sunlight are derived from a spatial model.
Soil and water issues are handled within a sub-model estimating the consequences for long-term soil fertility (nutrient cycling and soil compaction) and water (leaching of plant nutrients and mercury, and particle transport due to soil damage by heavy machinery).
The tool offers the end-user possibilities to prioritise and plan for cost-effective stump harvesting, while minimising negative environmental impacts.
International Symposium: “Tree-Stumps for Bioenergy - Harvesting Techniques and Environmental Consequences”, 24-26 October 2011, Uppsala, Sweden.