Date of Award

August 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Member

Patrick Hiesl

Committee Member

Donald L. Hagan

Committee Member

Puskar Khanal


There has been a gradual development and adaptation of mechanized harvesting equipment in the last hundred years. There is also a gradual change in the silvicultural and forest management practices. Thinning and restoration cuts are being implemented to manage overstocked and unmanaged pine forests by using mechanized harvesting equipment. However, a challenge that occurs with the first thinning and restoration cuts is the utilization of the small-diameter trees and logging residues. Landowners, foresters, and loggers are thus interested in finding the most profitable option to utilize those logging residues produced during such harvesting operations. Another challenge that occurs with the restoration treatment using heavy machinery is forest soil compaction. Therefore, in chapter I, I develop a decision support tool for biomass harvesting in forest restoration efforts. It predicts the stumpage value for a set of stand and site conditions, access to markets, and two different harvesting options (conventional roundwood harvest and a biomass harvest). When the biomass value is higher than the pulpwood value, selling the wood chips to the local biomass market located within 64 km would result in a higher economic return than the conventional system. Whereas, when the biomass value is lower than the pulpwood value, it is profitable to sell pulpwood to the pulp mills located within 120 km, even if the biomass market is only 64 km far. In chapter II, I review literature about the factors affecting productivity and cost in a whole tree harvesting system. For every 0.4-inch increase in the average diameter of a tree, the productivity of tracked feller-bunchers increases by 10%. In chapter III, the causes and effects of soil compaction during logging operation are reviewed. It is necessary to minimize soil compaction by using suitable harvesting equipment, eliminating mechanized harvesting if the slope is greater than 20%, avoiding areas when the soil moisture content is above 30%, and implementing best management practices during and after harvesting. In chapter IV, I have presented potential research questions for future researchers, a scientific study on the quality of wood chips from different forest stands, and a periodic study of forest soil compaction corresponding to the site conditions and harvesting equipment in South Carolina.



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