Mountain forests: a natural resource to be developped
Although forests represent a key resource of mountain environments, their valorization is hampered by accessibility constraints that prevent an efficient mapping, management, harvesting and transport of wood products.
Forests fulfil multiple functions in mountainous areas. They have an ecological function as host of many habitats and species. They also are a leisure area for social activities such as hiking, skiing… From the economical perspective, the production of renewable resources like timber and fuelwood has positive effects both at global scale, with climate change mitigation, and local scale with rural employment and the development of a regional value chain. The objective of preserving and improving the development of mountain forests is a point of public interest. However, managing forests in mountain territories is a difficult task as topography and climate set strong constraints inside a complex socio-economical framework.
In particular, a precise mapping of forest biomass characteristics and mobilization conditions (harvesting and accessibility) is a prerequisite for the implementation of an efficient supply chain for the wood industry. The available information is currently insufficient to provide, at reasonable costs, the required guarantees on the wood supply and on its sustainability. With the recent development of new remote sensing technologies and modelling tools, major improvements regarding the evaluation of the forest growing stock and accessibility are now possible. Upon this highly valuable information, decision-making tools must be build to optimize the investments in forest infrastructures required for a cost-effective wood supply while securing the sustainable management of forests, and to support the implementation of an efficient European policy for mountain forest management.