Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 06.04.2006

Model system of timber production chain helps forest owners and industry optimise production

How to grow and use timber better? How to obtain more timber that corresponds better to industrial needs, and how to exploit timber better in industry? The Puro Project of quantitative and qualitative optimisation of wood raw material in forest cultivation and industrial processes has sought answers to these questions using multi-disciplinary, wide-ranging and applied timber research. Puro combines experimental, theoretical and applied research on timber production chains. Subjects have included e.g. impact of forest management on stem growth, structure and timber material, and the effect of sorting and cross-cutting on the raw material.

The models developed by the project were combined to form a simulator which may be applied to study the quantitative and qualitative development of the stand and to compare profitability of various cultivation alternatives. The models may also be applied to optimise raw material use in timber processing. The methods provide answers to a number of topical questions in the forestry sector, such as: What kinds of thinning schedules yield the best financial result when pine is grown for sawn timber production? What kind of pricing encourages the forest owner to produce quality? Is the optimal management of a spruce stand related to whether sawn timber or pulp timber is produced?

The project successfully combined forestry know-how from various sectors and addressed all elements of the timber production chain. Simulation software and research results on timber quality were combined to form a model system which may be used to calculate profitability of different forest treatments and sorting methods with reference to different industrial forms of timber end-use.

It is not worth the forest owner’s while to invest in pine log quality
The model system was applied in case studies of pine and spruce. The pine case studies assessed profitability of thinnings from the forest owner's and sawmill's point of view, and compared application of different quality criteria in pricing of roundwood. The optimal treatment chain depended on whether it was viewed from the forest owner's or sawmill’s angle. The results indicated that it is not worth the forest owner’s while to produce high quality pine log at current prices, since quality does not bring a return, but price differentials between different qualities are too low.

Fibre properties of spruce are not dependent on thinning or fertilisation treatments
The spruce case study assessed characteristics of spruce fibres resulting from various cultivation alternatives. The results showed that fibre qualities of spruce are not significantly dependent on thinning or fertilisation treatments. The greatest effect of treatments concerned fibre qualities of sawmill chips.

The methods developed are based on extensive research data on development of three-dimensional structure of trees under different growing conditions. The model system is independent of prevailing quality classification criteria, and it is well suited as a basis of various calculations and also of further research.

The participants of the Puro research project were six research groups from the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Forest Research Institute and the Technical Research Centre of Finland. The project was funded by the Foundation for Research of Natural Resources in Finland. The project results were presented at the Marina Congress Centre at the Metsäpäivät conference.

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