Abstract

Life-cycle assessment (LCA) techniques have been used in order to evaluate the environmental impact of conventional oil ‘hydraulic’ systems in an ecologically-sensitive application; that of mobile forestry machinery typical of modem European design. A single-grip ‘harvester’ employed for logging and a ‘forwarder’ that subsequently transports the felled and cut-to-length timber out of the forest are analysed. The results of this indicative LCA provide insights into the relative magnitude of the complex range of environmental impacts arising from fluid power systems and their parent vehicles in the forestry context. It also suggests areas for future research, principally on the impact of diesel fuel and hydraulic oil (including their additives) on the forest ecosystem, on the balance between local, regional and global environmental effects, and on the developing methods of LCA itself.

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