Characterizing cable-logging enterprises in Italy: production, workforce, equipment and potential for growth

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.