Tool on anvil to plan forest roads, trails

The planning and construction of logging road networks is an essential step in the logging process in natural forests. Errors in their implementation lead to an increase in the total length of open roads, an increased environmental impact, and an increase in harvesting costs, resulting in a delay in the rest of the harvesting operations.

The additional costs generated by these planning errors are even more important given the current global and sub-regional economic situation, which is leading to an increase in energy costs.

Indeed, it is estimated that a significant portion of the additional operating costs associated with poor planning is related to fuel expenses. In Gabon, for instance, fuel costs have doubled in the second half of 2022.

In addition, sustainable management certification standards, national regulatory contexts and markets are increasingly demanding the integration of environmental aspects by forestry companies: carrying out carbon assessments, monitoring green-house gas (GHG) emissions, identifying and maintaining ecosystem services, etc.

Digital tool

A planning error can quickly lead to heavy damage to the natural environment. The consulting firm BFConsult and the company RS&D Technology are planning the development of a digital solution to assist in the planning of roads and forest trails and to evaluate their costs and environmental impacts.

There are currently no tools to help forest managers meet the dual challenge of reducing the environmental impact of logging and controlling the costs of building forest roads and trails.

BFConsult, along with R&SD Technology, is working on the design of a digital solution for forest managers to provide them with a planning and analysis tool for forest trail networks.

This digital GIS solution, accessible with a web browser, will operate through several independent and complementary modules. Computer models specially designed for the application will allow each user to customise the parameters according to his own environment and organisation.

Flexible in its use, the tool will also make it possible to analyse the economic and environmental performances of networks of tracks generated by it or to analyse already opened networks in the form of a summary report of performances.

Carbon integration

As a response to the objectives of technicians and decision-makers in forestry companies, the solution plans to integrate the following features:

•        Division into pockets of operations

•        Design of the road and structure (bridges) network

•        Design of the network of logging roads and yards

•        Analysis of the logging road network including carbon emissions estimation

This tool aims to strengthen the cartographer’s and forest manager’s toolbox and to assist forest managers in their decision-making to achieve less costly and less environmentally impactful road planning.

Based on data from the scientific literature or customisable by users according to their own data and specific to their natural environment, the analysis module of the application will allow the estimation of carbon emissions of forest trail networks.

This functionality will facilitate the establishment of the carbon footprint of forest operators and will allow the carbon criterion to be fully considered during decision-making. 



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