Extraction of timber: conserving stocks and soils

Extraction of timber: conserving stocks and soils
The use of horses causes less damage to stands and regeneration areas. © www.agrar.steiermark.at

Involved sectors


Affected habitats



Extraction of timber is a major intervention in forest stocks and inevitably causes disturbance to flora and fauna. Despite careful planning and implementation, it is impossible to avoid damage to the remaining stands. Known as skidding damage, this can have sometimes considerable negative impacts on individual trees and on forest stands. Furthermore, extraction often also involves the creation of forestry roads, which have a fragmenting effect. In terms of landscape permeability, alternative methods of extraction (e.g. cable logging, horse logging etc.) should be given preference. The use of horses, in particular, causes less damage to stands and regeneration areas, and protects the forest floor as it does not leave tracks or cause widespread compaction of soils or oil pollution etc. Horses can also be used on slopes, and if sledges are used, can continue in winter.


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Birds
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Negative effects of timber extraction (including noise) are reduced by the deployment of less damaging extraction methods.
Other Less damaging timber extraction methods make a contribution to soil protection and water pollution control.
Time of realisation for measure Immediate: Positive effects are noticeable immediately.
Impact scope Very localised (plot): The measure has a very localised impact in the direct timber extraction area. A large-scale approach increases the scope of impact accordingly.


Implementation period Days: The measure can be integrated easily into timber extraction activities.
Frequency Non-recurring

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): In Austria, depending on the forest's function, subsidies are available for up to 50-70% (at maximum extraction costs of €40 per solid cubic metre) of the costs when horses are used.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Depending on the conditions in the territory and the situation at the outset, the use of horses can be more economical, and financial aid may also be also available.
Sources of financing Private sponsor, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Subsidies are available for the use of horses in the preliminary clearing activities required for regeneration, as well as in small-scale clear cutting activities to promote already existing natural regeneration.

Further information

Evaluation Currently, horses are only used infrequently for timber extraction, and the experiences are available from the state forestry administrations concerned.
Information Other: e.g. from the forestry authorities in question.

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