Action to remedy frost damage to public gravel roads in Finland should be initiated as soon as possible. According to an investigation carried out by the Finnish Road Administration, Metsäteho Oy and the Finnish Road Enterprise the costs of repairing frost damage to roads pay for themselves in just over a year through the savings in timber procurement costs, when the stretches for repair are selected correctly. The profitability of repair projects is even further enhanced when the benefits to other transport and to residential areas alongside the roads are also taken into consideration.
Frost damage to roads increases the forest industry’s costs by around EUR 100 million annually.The main reason for this being the frost damage to public gravel roads, which stops timber transport in spring for many weeks and often disrupts transport in autumn too.
The profitability of the programme for repairing frost-damaged roads was studied in the Kainuu, Koillismaa, Savo-Karjala, Keski-Suomi, Häme and Kaakkois-Suomi regions. It was calculated that a total of around EUR 44 million was needed for repairing public gravel roads in these regions. This investment would achieve savings in timber transport of around EUR 40 million in a year. Repairs to frost-damaged roads proved very worthwhile, as the money invested in repairs pays for itself through cost savings in just over a year.
In the regional investigation, the forest resources of the area were linked to the transportation routes and requirements, as well as to the repair costs for the roads and the benefits that would be achieved. As a result of the study the stretches for repair were ranked in order of importance, based on repair costs and benefits achieved. This method made very evident the frost-damaged stretches that cause the greatest “bottlenecks” for transportation. Even a short stretch of road in poor condition can stop transport routes over a wide area.
Frost-damaged roads prevent steady harvesting, transportation and employment
Frost damage to roads makes it impossible to organise steady harvesting and transportation that would correspond to the factories’ timber utilisation. Steps are taken to prepare for the spring road damage by increasing the harvesting and transport of wood during the winter season, when all possible forestry machines and timber vehicles are operating at full capacity. However, during the period when the roads are damaged by frost the machinery can, at worst, stand idle for several weeks. It is not possible to find full-time work all year round for all the plant and machinery that is reserved for the peak season, and this can be seen, for example, by the poor profitability of those forest machine and transport firms that are not operating at full capacity. Overcapacity is one of the major factors causing additional costs. Steadier employment would also ease the threatened labour shortage.
Increasing the stocks of timber safeguards the timber supply for the factories during the frost damage period. Extra storage causes increased costs in terms of timber handling and protection, a decrease in the quality of the raw material, and capital tied up in storage. During the frost damage period a higher price is paid for transportable, marked stands of wood, and the damaged roads have to be repaired. In the worst cases industrial production has even had to be cut back when frost-damaged roads have stopped timber deliveries.
Metsäteho Oy is a company providing research and development services related to wood procurement and wood production.
For further information:
Olli Mäkelä, M.Sc., Office Manager, Finnish Road Enterprise
Tel. +358 (0)20 444 5370, +358 (0)400 176 167, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heikki Pajuoja, Managing director, Metsäteho Oy
Tel. +358 (0)20 765 8801, +358 (0)40 528 4359, email@example.com
Jouni Väkevä, Counsellor, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
Tel. +358 (0)9 132 6620, +358 (0)40 530 7164, firstname.lastname@example.org