Special Issue "Operations Research and Optimisation Techniques in Forest Management and Operations"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Operations and Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2022) | Viewed by 15139

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mauricio Acuna
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Forest Research Institute, University of the Sunshine Coast, Locked Bag 4, Maroochydore DC, QLD 4558, Australia
Interests: wood and biomass supply chain optimization; sensor technology; transport optimization; forest planning
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. John Sessions
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
College of Forestry, 336 Peavy Hall Science Complex, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Interests: transportation planning; tactical forest planning; strategic forest planning; decision support systems for road management; biomass collection and transport; steep slope mechanization
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Andres Weintraub
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Chile, Beauchef 851, Santiago, Chile
Interests: operations research and operations management; analytics in forest management; logistics

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Forest management involves making decisions on the planning, use, and conservation of forests and related resources, including timber, water, wildlife, recreation, or a combination. Forest resource managers must make critical long- and short-term decisions, including daily operational activities. Operations research (OR) methods, primarily optimization techniques such as linear and mixed-integer programming, have been extensively used to support effective planning and management of forests and forest supply chains. Optimization is a type of prescriptive analytics that finds a “best” solution from a set of “feasible” solutions, using a mathematical algorithm that maximizes or minimizes a specified objective function subject to constraints. In forest management and planning, decision-making processes often use OR techniques to provide optimal solutions that will best meet the objectives of the landowners or land managers.

The focus of this Special Issue of Forests is on OR techniques in forest management and operations. Research articles may focus on any application of mathematical models and decision support tools for the optimization of one or more components of forest planning and operations, including decisions at strategic, tactical, and operational planning levels. Topics can include but are not limited to harvest scheduling in even and un-even forests to meet production and ecological objectives, forest planning under uncertainty (e.g., pests, fire), supply chain optimization including economic, social, and environmental objectives, optimized network design including the optimal location of timber and biomass facilities, and optimized harvesting and transport logistics. Solution techniques may include, among others, linear and nonlinear programming, mixed-integer programming, stochastic programming, multi-objective and goal programming, dynamic programming, network programming, heuristics, metaheuristics, and simulation models.

Dr. Mauricio Acuna
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. John Sessions
Prof. Dr. Andres Weintraub
Co-Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • operations research
  • optimization
  • forest management
  • forest operations
  • wood and biomass supply chain optimization
  • mathematical modeling
  • heuristics
  • metaheuristics
  • simulation

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Article
A Scenario-Based Analysis of Forest Product Transportation Using a Hybrid Fuzzy Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Method
Forests 2022, 13(5), 730; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f13050730 - 07 May 2022
Viewed by 479
Abstract
The aim of this study is to reveal the weight values of the criteria that are effective in selecting the most suitable vehicle types in forest products transportation by using hybrid fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making method. According to different scenarios, the goal is to [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to reveal the weight values of the criteria that are effective in selecting the most suitable vehicle types in forest products transportation by using hybrid fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making method. According to different scenarios, the goal is to determine which vehicle alternative is the most suitable in given conditions. In the results obtained from the study, it is determined that the most important main criterion in determining the eligibility of vehicle alternatives in forest products transport is the environmental damage criterion, while the other main criteria are cost and operational performance, in order of importance. In the scope of the study, transportation scenarios including different operational conditions were created and the suitability of vehicle alternatives was evaluated according to the scenarios, taking into account CO2 emission and road surface damage risk criteria. Transportation of coniferous and broadleaved tree species makes a difference in vehicle suitability rankings according to transportation scenarios. In addition, it was observed that the variability in the amount of roundwoods to be transported affects the vehicle suitability rankings. It will be beneficial to consider the total weight of the forest product to be transported and the tree species in the selection vehicle type. Full article
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Article
An Optimization Approach to Assess the Impact of Drying and Dry Matter Losses of Eucalyptus globulus Roundwood and Biomass on Supply Chains Costs and GHG Emissions
Forests 2022, 13(5), 701; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f13050701 - 29 Apr 2022
Viewed by 586
Abstract
In-forest drying of roundwood and biomass (residues) can result in more efficient transport operations from an economical and environmental perspective. On the negative side, in-forest drying may result in dry matter losses (DML), impacting the quantity and quality of residues delivered to energy [...] Read more.
In-forest drying of roundwood and biomass (residues) can result in more efficient transport operations from an economical and environmental perspective. On the negative side, in-forest drying may result in dry matter losses (DML), impacting the quantity and quality of residues delivered to energy plants. This paper investigated the impact of roundwood and residues in-forest drying and DML on supply chain costs and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. For the assessment, a short-term optimization planning tool was applied to a supply chain located in Asturias, Spain, consisting of fourteen supply points and two demand points: A pulp mill (demanding roundwood) and a power plant (demanding residues). Four scenarios were included in the analysis comprising different combinations of DML for roundwood and residues resulting from in-forest drying. Our results indicate that in scenarios that include in-forest drying and DML, the negative economic effects are offset by the substantial reductions in transport costs and GHG emissions. In-forest drying of roundwood and residues without DML can result in a 6.5% reduction in supply chain costs, 14.9% fewer truckloads to destination points, and 18.1% less fuel consumption and GHG emissions. Full article
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Article
Optimizing Operational-Level Forest Biomass Logistic Costs for Storage, Chipping and Transportation through Roadside Drying
Forests 2022, 13(2), 138; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f13020138 - 18 Jan 2022
Viewed by 381
Abstract
Forest biomass (FB) could supply more of Australia’s energy needs, but delivered costs must be reduced for it to be a viable energy source. Operational planning is critical to reducing delivered costs as it determines actual activities, though few operational FB supply chain [...] Read more.
Forest biomass (FB) could supply more of Australia’s energy needs, but delivered costs must be reduced for it to be a viable energy source. Operational planning is critical to reducing delivered costs as it determines actual activities, though few operational FB supply chain (FBSC) planning tools have been published. This paper presents a “proof-of-concept” operational FBSC decision support system (DSS) to schedule FB deliveries for eight weeks from roadside storage for the least cost, taking in account moisture content changes. Four mathematical models are compared, solving a linear formulation of the FB delivery problem in terms of solution speed and delivered cost, and the practicality of implementing the solutions. The best performing model was a Greedy algorithm as it produced solutions not significantly different from those of the tested linear programming solver and was readily modified to significantly improve solution implementation through the addition of a non-linear element. FBSC planning tools typically assume accurate knowledge of stored FB quantities and that little or no rainfall occurs during storage. In practice, stored FB quantity estimates can be inaccurate due to variation in the bulk density of the piles. Improving these estimates is a critical area for future research. This study found that simulated rainfall with <20 mm during the first week of the scheduled period did not significantly effect delivered costs. Full article
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Article
Effect of Heavy Machine Traffic on Soil CO2 Concentration and Efflux in a Pinus koraiensis Thinning Stand
Forests 2021, 12(11), 1497; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12111497 - 29 Oct 2021
Viewed by 581
Abstract
Mechanized timber harvesting is cost efficient and highly productive. However, mechanized harvesting operations are often associated with several environmental problems, including soil compaction and disturbance. Soil compaction impedes air circulation between the soil and atmosphere, which in turn results in increased concentrations of [...] Read more.
Mechanized timber harvesting is cost efficient and highly productive. However, mechanized harvesting operations are often associated with several environmental problems, including soil compaction and disturbance. Soil compaction impedes air circulation between the soil and atmosphere, which in turn results in increased concentrations of CO2 within soil pores. In this study, we investigated the impact of forest machine traffic on soil conditions to determine soil CO2 efflux (Fc), and soil CO2 concentrations (Sc). Field measurements included soil bulk density (BD), soil temperature (ST), soil water content (SWC), Fc, and Sc over a 3-year period at a specific thinning operation site (Hwacheon-gun) in the Gangwon Province of Korea. To assess the soil impacts associated with machine traffic, we established four machine-treatment plots (MT) characterized by different geographical and traffic conditions. The results revealed that BD, Sc, and SWC increased significantly on the disturbed track areas (p < 0.05). Furthermore, reduced soil Fc values were measured on the soil-compacted (machine disturbed) tracks in comparison with undisturbed (control) areas. Variations in BD, SWC, and Sc were significantly different among the four MT plots. Additionally, in comparison with undisturbed areas, lower Fc and higher Sc values were obtained in compacted areas with high soil temperatures. Full article
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Article
A Compromise Programming Application to Support Forest Industrial Plantation Decision-Makers
Forests 2021, 12(11), 1481; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12111481 - 28 Oct 2021
Viewed by 513
Abstract
The conflicts that arise between natural resources consumption and the desire to preserve them make the multicriteria decision theory necessary. Brazil, one of the 10 largest timber producers globally, uses optimization models that represent the growth of forests integrated with decision support systems. [...] Read more.
The conflicts that arise between natural resources consumption and the desire to preserve them make the multicriteria decision theory necessary. Brazil, one of the 10 largest timber producers globally, uses optimization models that represent the growth of forests integrated with decision support systems. Brazilian forest plantation managers often face conflicts when continuously seeking efficiency gains (higher productivity at lower costs) and efficacy (higher profits with minimum social and environmental impacts). Managers of leading producing countries on timber, pulp, and fiberboard constantly interact to fine-tune industry processing demands vis-a-vis the demands of highly productive fast-growing forest plantations. The decision process in such cases seeks a compromise that accommodates short-term industry productivity optimization and long-term forestry production capacity. This paper aims to apply a forest management decision support system (FMDSS) to a case study that represents the challenges that industrial plantations in Brazil usually face. A vertically integrated pulp company situation was simulated to provide a real scenario. In this scenario, forest managers tend to shorten the rotations due to Brazil’s usually high-interest rates; meanwhile, industrial managers tend to ask for longer ones due to the positive correlation between age and wood density. Romero®, a Forest Management Decision Support System, developed by following the multi-criteria decision theory, was used to process the case study. Expressly, the hypothesis that mill managers initially have, that older ages rotation could improve mill production, was not confirmed. Moreover, mill managers lean towards changes in the short term, while the case study shows that changes in rotation size and genetic material take time, and decisions have to be made involving both interests: forest and mill managers. Full article
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Article
Effects of Spatial Boreal Forest Harvesting Practices on Efficiency through a Benchmarking Approach in Eastern Canada
Forests 2021, 12(8), 1108; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12081108 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 987
Abstract
In eastern Canada, harvesting practices and spatial organization of harvested sites are modulated according to ecosystem forest management objectives. We determined how spatial organization affects efficiency by evaluating wood procurement costs. A comparative analysis of efficiency was presented using a non-parametric technique, i.e., [...] Read more.
In eastern Canada, harvesting practices and spatial organization of harvested sites are modulated according to ecosystem forest management objectives. We determined how spatial organization affects efficiency by evaluating wood procurement costs. A comparative analysis of efficiency was presented using a non-parametric technique, i.e., data envelopment analysis (DEA), which allows multiple variable analyses of different factors. A database of 50 harvested sites during the period 2015–2018, located along a north-south latitudinal gradient between 46° to 50°, was constructed with variables describing spatial organization (roads and dispersion of patches) and operational aspects (wood procurement costs). The evaluated financial efficiencies show high values greater than 70%. The causes of inefficiency were dispersion of the patches, distance to the mill, and the number of kilometers of built roads. When efficiency values were arranged by latitudinal location, northern sites exhibited a lower value of overall and scale efficiency due to the high values in the wood harvested, and developed road density of the zone. Full article
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Article
Benchmarking Procurement Cost Saving Strategies for Wood Supply Chains
Forests 2021, 12(8), 1086; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12081086 - 13 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1173
Abstract
Intense international competition pushes the actors of wood supply chains to implement efficient wood supply chain management incorporating coordinated cost-saving strategies to remain competitive. In order to observe the effects of individual and coordinated decision making, mixed-integer programming models for forestry, round-wood transport, [...] Read more.
Intense international competition pushes the actors of wood supply chains to implement efficient wood supply chain management incorporating coordinated cost-saving strategies to remain competitive. In order to observe the effects of individual and coordinated decision making, mixed-integer programming models for forestry, round-wood transport, and the wood-based industry were developed and integrated. The models deal with operational planning issues regarding production, harvest, and transport and are solved sequentially for individual cost optimization of each wood supply chain actor as well as simultaneously by a combined model representing joint cost optimization in an integrated wood supply chain. This allows for the first time, benchmarking relative cost-saving potential of the wood procurement strategies coordinated transports, integrated supply chains, satellite stockyards, and higher truck payloads within a single case study setting. Based on case study data from southern Austria, results show the advantages of an integrated supply chain with a cost-saving potential of up to 24%. Higher truck payloads reinforce this potential and enable up to 40% savings compared to the predominant wood procurement situation in Central Europe. Wood supply chain integration for Central European circumstances seems to be feasible only for a limited consortium of a few companies, for example when restricted to a wood-buying syndicate supplying several industry plants or a few large forest enterprises, especially as both groups are commonly steering wood transport on their own. Consequently, further research on the challenging task of implementing integrated supply chains using the opportunities of digitalization to realize existing cost savings potential by deepening cooperation and intensifying information exchange is needed. Full article
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Article
Modeling and Optimization Sustainable Forest Supply Chain Considering Discount in Transportation System and Supplier Selection under Uncertainty
Forests 2021, 12(8), 964; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12080964 - 21 Jul 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4732
Abstract
In recent decades, the forest industry has been growingly expanded due to economic conditions, climate changes, environmental and energy policies, and intense demand changes. Thus, appropriate planning is required to improve this industry. To achieve economic, social and environmental goals, a supply chain [...] Read more.
In recent decades, the forest industry has been growingly expanded due to economic conditions, climate changes, environmental and energy policies, and intense demand changes. Thus, appropriate planning is required to improve this industry. To achieve economic, social and environmental goals, a supply chain network is designed based on a multi-period and multi-product Mixed-Integer Non-Linear Programming (MINLP) model in which the objective is to maximize the profit, minimize detrimental environmental effects, improve social effects, and minimize the number of lost demands. In addition, to improve forest industry planning, strategic and tactical decisions have been implemented throughout the supply chain for all facilities, suppliers and machinery. These decisions significantly help to improve processes and product flows and to meet customers’ needs. In addition, because of the presence of uncertainty in some parameters, the proposed model was formulated and optimized under uncertainty using the hybrid robust possibilistic programming (HRPP-II) approach. The ε-constraint technique was used to solve the multi-objective model, and the Lagrangian relaxation (LR) method was utilized to solve the model of more complex dimensions. A case study in Northern Iran was conducted to assess the efficiency of the suggested approach. Finally, a sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the impact of important parameters on objective functions. The results of this study show that increasing the working hours of machines instead of increasing their number, increasing the capacity of some facilities instead of establishing new facilities and expanding the transport fleet has a significant impact on achieving predetermined goals. Full article
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Article
Maximizing the Standing Skyline Log Load Using a Variable Length Tagline
Forests 2021, 12(7), 927; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12070927 - 15 Jul 2021
Viewed by 650
Abstract
The standing skyline continues to be a common cable logging configuration. In payload analysis it is usually assumed that the tagline (line connecting the logs to the carriage) length is held constant while yarding a turn up the skyline corridor. We show this [...] Read more.
The standing skyline continues to be a common cable logging configuration. In payload analysis it is usually assumed that the tagline (line connecting the logs to the carriage) length is held constant while yarding a turn up the skyline corridor. We show this assumption severely limits the skyline load-carrying capacity for skylines operating with partial suspension. We suggest that smart carriage technology could markedly increase the log load capacity through the use of a variable length tagline, and thus logging productivity. A methodology for estimating the log load capacity for a standing skyline with variable tagline length is presented. We illustrate that increases of 30–40 percent in log load are possible with a variable length tagline. Full article
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Article
FIELD: A Software Tool That Integrates Harvester Data and Allometric Equations for a Dynamic Estimation of Forest Harvesting Residues
Forests 2021, 12(7), 834; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12070834 - 24 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 756
Abstract
On an international comparison basis, Australia’s utilisation of forest residues remains very low. While there are numerous factors contributing to this low utilisation, this is greatly explained by the limited timely and accurate data on availability, quality, and location of residues generated during [...] Read more.
On an international comparison basis, Australia’s utilisation of forest residues remains very low. While there are numerous factors contributing to this low utilisation, this is greatly explained by the limited timely and accurate data on availability, quality, and location of residues generated during harvesting operations. This manuscript reports on the development and testing of a new freeware tool called FIELD (Forest Inventory Electronic Live Data), which supports the real-time monitoring and estimation of forestry harvesting residues. As inputs, FIELD uses StanForD pri files and geo-location data extracted from the harvester’s onboard computer in combination with locally developed species-specific allometric equations. Using a case study, this paper describes how FIELD works operationally and illustrates the range of support features that the tool can provide to decision-makers by producing real-time data on the availability, quality, and location of harvesting residues. In addition, it is discussed how the tool can contribute to supporting decisions during forest operations associated with the feasibility of residue utilisation in specific site conditions. Our results show that it is possible to estimate the availability of harvesting residues at geo-located sites dynamically, although further testing of the tool is required for a more accurate estimation and monitoring of harvesting residues. Full article
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Article
Balancing Large-Scale Wildlife Protection and Forest Management Goals with a Game-Theoretic Approach
Forests 2021, 12(6), 809; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12060809 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 886
Abstract
When adopted, wildlife protection policies in Canadian forests typically cover large areas and affect multiple economic agents working in these landscapes. Such measures are likely to increase the costs of timber for forestry companies operating in the area, which may hinder their acceptance [...] Read more.
When adopted, wildlife protection policies in Canadian forests typically cover large areas and affect multiple economic agents working in these landscapes. Such measures are likely to increase the costs of timber for forestry companies operating in the area, which may hinder their acceptance of the policies unless harvesting remains profitable. We propose a bi-level wildlife protection problem that accounts for the profit-maximizing behavior of forestry companies operating in an area subject to protection. We consider the regulator with a wildlife protection mandate and forestry companies licensed to harvest public forest lands. We depict the relationship between the regulator and forestry companies as a leader-follower Stackelberg game. The leader sets the protected area target for each license area and the followers adjust their strategies to maximize payoffs while meeting the protection target set by the leader. The leader’s objective is to maximize the area-wide protection of spatially contiguous habitat while accounting for the followers’ profit-maximizing behavior. We apply the approach to investigate habitat protection policies for woodland caribou in the Churchill range, Ontario, Canada. We compare the game-theoretic solutions with solutions that do not consider the forest companies’ objectives and also with solutions equalizing the revenue losses among the companies. Full article
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Article
Use of Optimization Modeling to Assess the Effect of Timber and Carbon Pricing on Harvest Scheduling, Carbon Sequestration, and Net Present Value of Eucalyptus Plantations
Forests 2021, 12(6), 651; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12060651 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 949
Abstract
Quantifying the impact of carbon (C) and timber prices on harvest scheduling and economic returns is essential to define strategies for the sustainable management of short-rotation plantations so that they can provide timber products and contribute to C sequestration. In this paper, we [...] Read more.
Quantifying the impact of carbon (C) and timber prices on harvest scheduling and economic returns is essential to define strategies for the sustainable management of short-rotation plantations so that they can provide timber products and contribute to C sequestration. In this paper, we present a mixed-integer linear programming model that optimizes harvest scheduling at the forest level, C sequestration, and Net Present Value (NPV) over a planning period of up to 15 years. The model included revenue from the sale of timber (pulplogs) and credits from the net C sequestered during the life of the stands. In addition, plantation establishment, management, harvesting, and transportation costs were included in the analysis. The study area comprised 88 Eucalyptus grandis W. Hill and Eucalyptus dunnii Maiden stands located in Uruguay, totaling a forest area of nearly 1882 ha. The study investigated the impact of C and timber prices on NPV, harvest schedules, stands’ harvest age, timber flows to customers, and C sequestered per period. The maximum NPV among all the scenarios evaluated (USD 7.53 M) was calculated for a C price of 30 USD t−1, an interest rate of 6%, and a timber price of 75 USD m−3. This was USD 2.14 M higher than the scenario with the same parameters but that included only revenue from timber. C prices also impacted stands’ harvest age, C sequestration, and timber flows delivered to end customers. On average, in scenarios that included C prices, timber flows and C sequestration increased by 15.4 and 12.1%, respectively, when C price increased from 5 to 30 USD t−1. These results demonstrate that harvest scheduling, harvest age, and NPV are very sensitive to C and timber, and that the best economic returns are obtained when the stands are managed to maximize timber production and C sequestration. Full article
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Article
Impact of Roadside Drying on Delivered Costs for Eucalyptus globulus Logging Residue and Whole Trees Supplying a Hypothetical Energy Plant in Western Australia Using a Linear-Programming Model
Forests 2021, 12(4), 455; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/f12040455 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 864
Abstract
Australia’s large potential forest bioenergy resource is considerably underutilised, due largely to its high delivered costs. Drying forest biomass at the roadside can potentially reduce its delivered cost through weight reduction and increased net calorific value. There has been little research on the [...] Read more.
Australia’s large potential forest bioenergy resource is considerably underutilised, due largely to its high delivered costs. Drying forest biomass at the roadside can potentially reduce its delivered cost through weight reduction and increased net calorific value. There has been little research on the impact of roadside drying for Australian conditions and plantation species. This study compared delivered costs for three forest biomass types—Eucalyptus globulus plantation whole trees and logging residue (LR)-disaggregated (LR conventional) or aggregated (LR fuel-adapted)—and three roadside storage scenarios—no storage, ≤two-month storage and optimal storage—to supply a hypothetical thermal power plant in south-west Western Australia. The study was performed using a tactical linear programming tool (MCPlan). Roadside storage reduced delivered costs, with optimal storage (storage for up to 14 months) producing the lowest costs. Delivered costs were inversely related to forest biomass spatial density due to transport cost reductions. Whole trees, which had the highest spatial density, stored under the optimal storage scenario had the lowest delivered costs (AUD 7.89/MWh) while LR conventional, with the lowest spatial density, had the highest delivered costs when delivered without storage (AUD 15.51/MWh). For both LR types, two-month storage achieved ~60% of the savings from the optimal storage scenario but only 23% of the savings for whole trees. The findings suggested that roadside drying and high forest biomass spatial density are critical to reducing forest biomass delivered costs. Full article
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