Forest operations across Canada are encountering increasingly difficult road conditions and more frequent access interruptions related to wet and weak road sections. Resource roads are considered a liability by many forest companies and their business model has been to create the lowest cost, lowest standard, resource road network possible that also will provide tolerable levels of access (i.e., some but not too many failures and hauling disruptions). Increasingly difficult operating conditions and frequent access interruptions, however, drive up costs and threaten the economic sustainability of forest operations.
Starting in 2017, FPInnovations has launched a project to provide its members with techniques and strategies that will offer more reliable and strong road sections and reduce overall road costs. A state-of-practice survey of FPInnovations members provided researchers with a comprehensive understanding of conventional means of responding to wet, weak road conditions in Canada. The report summarizes the responses to wet, weak resource road sections that were identified in the state-of-practice survey and provides an overview of the chief causes and related site indicators for wet, weak road conditions.
Recommended best practices are provided for a variety of conventional industry responses to wet, weak road sections. These address common misconceptions and knowledge gaps that reduce the effectiveness and increase the overall cost associated with the industry responses. These best practice recommendations were based upon findings from a literature review, product manufacturer information, and from researcher expertise.
The report also considers improvements to conventional practices, and advanced solutions that are potentially more effective and economic than the state-of-practice but are not widely exploited by industry. Eleven potential solutions from these two categories were compared and ranked in order of potential. The practice improvements selected for further study were soil compaction, and corduroy and access mats. The advanced solutions selected for further study were geosynthetics that offer both soil reinforcement and enhanced drainage, geocells, and TPCS, a technology to improve truck road-friendliness. Starting in 2021, FPInnovations will initiate field trials and life cycle cost analyses of these technologies.
The load-bearing capacity of forest roads is often reduced by excess water combined with harsh weather conditions. This decreases the reliability of these roads and has an impact on the cost and access to fiber. In order to overcome this challenge, the construction of feeder roads is one of the most used solutions. This technique involves shaping the road and allowing it to consolidate for a period of time to reduce its moisture content prior to the placement of granular materials. Although this practice is widespread, its effectiveness had never been quantified. With this in mind, FPInnovations, in collaboration with several members of the forest industry, evaluated the technical, financial and functional benefits of this practice.
La capacité portante des chemins forestiers est souvent réduite par un excès d’eau associé à des conditions climatiques difficiles. Ceci diminue la fiabilité de ces routes et a un impact sur le coût et l’accès à la fibre. Afin de pallier ce défi, la construction des routes d’avance est l’une des solutions les plus utilisées. Cette technique consiste à faire la mise en forme de la route et à la laisser consolider pendant un certain temps pour diminuer sa teneur en humidité avant la mise en place des matériaux granulaires. Bien que cette pratique soit répandue, son efficacité n’avait jamais été quantifiée. C’est dans cette perspective que FPInnovations, en collaboration avec plusieurs membres de l’industrie forestière, a évalué les avantages techniques, financiers et fonctionnels de cette pratique.