Interviews with 51 entrepreneurs indicated that Italian cable-yarding specialist companies are small-scale businesses with a workforce of 3 to 5 operators and an annual production of about 5000 m3 over bark. Their primary piece of equipment is a tower yarder, which relies on a support fleet consisting of adapted farm tractors and excavators. There is a clear divide between alpine and non-alpine entrepreneurs, the latter being less productive and somewhat more versatile than the former. That difference is likely dependent on the different work environment: alpine operators can rely on larger public owners, bigger softwood trees and more valuable timber products, whereas non-alpine loggers are constrained by fragmented private ownerships, smaller hardwood trees (often coppice) and less valuable firewood products. Non-alpine loggers also yard on shorter distances and use smaller towers. Further expansion of cable-logging south of the Alps could be achieved by developing new equipment capable of overcoming those limitations. In that regard, one may consider unguyed towers designed for live skyline operation.
Characterizing cable-logging enterprises in Italy: production, workforce, equipment and potential for growth