Damage area in South Tyrol: At least 1.5 million sm³ are said to be affected © Autonomous province of Bolzano, South Tyrol

South Tyrol

Out of its league ...

Article by Gerd Ebner, translated by Susanne Höfler | 30.11.2018 - 10:21

Pichler Holz is located in Eggental valley – so practically in the epicenter of the damage area. Gilli fears that in Eggental valley alone, 1 million sm³ of damaged wood accrued. What makes the situation especially precarious for him: The people affected are regular suppliers, neighbors and relatives. The solid cubic meter volumes per hectare there clearly surpass the usual 3 to 400 sm³/ha. "The high stock level per hectare makes estimations of damaged wood volumes extremely difficult. I am afraid that previous reports are too low", Gilli says. He believes that throughout Europe there are few forest areas where so much wood is growing.

Infrastructure helps

The existing forest road density in South Tyrol will help with processing. The high plain areas are in part accessible by harvesters. For cable cranes, Gilli also does not see any limitations. Also, there is sufficient harvest supply in his opinion. Together with Binderholz, Pichler Holz offered forest owners in Eggental a fixed roundwood price for 2019. Gilli wants to pre-finance harvesting for forest owners, and there are also plans to step up the water storage capacity.

Bottleneck logistics

The limiting factor in any case is logistics. Still, Pichler believes to be able to handle 25,000 sm³ per month or 300,000 sm³ at most for the total period of 2019 in collaboration with Binderholz.

Accordingly, time is pressing. The harvest focus is primarily supposed to be on assortments of higher quality. "South Tyrol is a belt saw country. We should not even process extremely small-sized wood. Also, existing logistics capacities are too valuable for Cx wood", Gilli explains. Trunks where the root is still attached will be harvested later.

Gilli does not yet want to envision what supply will look like in a few years' time. The consequences of Vaia will be eliminated by then, but so will a lot of forests in his area.