In recent months a theory, hereto cited as the Loggers Myth (Calm_Blue_Sea, 2001), has emerged and has rapidly become ingrained in popular dogma. The theory holds that using loggers (lumberjacks) to clear areas of trees will decrease the time required to erect buildings on these lands. The theory has gained further credibility from its admission in an on-line gaming guide (Gamespot, 2001).
It has long been the opinion of this author that this hypothesis is completely unfounded, and indeed a total fallacy. The need for empirical evidence to back this claim has precipitated the following study. Although still ongoing, preliminary research is indeed undermining popular opinion, and is revealing some important truths.
A new map was started on the second difficulty level and edited in editor mode. A large area was leveled (reduced to sea level). Numerous experiments were performed in which logging camps, labour camps, and trees of various species were individually placed. In a second set of experiments, cleared land was watched closely to determine rates of natural succession, while an old growth tree lot was observed in an attempt to estimate natural mortality rates. Although run in editor mode, preliminary observations suggest that this data also holds true in vivo (or more correctly, in gamo).
3. Tropican Flora
A variety of tree and shrub species are indigenous to the island of Tropico. Although both monocots and dicots are well represented, curiously it would appear that that gymnosperms and lower land plants are completely lacking.
3.1. Growth Rates:
The excellent soils of Tropico permit very rapid growth of the native vegetation. Most trees appear to mature within 12 years of germination, although the large palms may take longer. Dicotyledonous trees (generally broadleaved ) appear to mature faster and may require as little as 7 years. Tropican environmental law forbids the harvesting of under age trees.
3.2. Tree Mortality Rates:
Of course trees on Tropico undergo normal life cycles including death. Upon dying, only a stump remains. The maximum lifespan of Tropican trees is currently unknown. Funding permitting, this topic will be the focus of a future study. (Please note, it is with deep regret that this author must withdraw his previous statement that stumps are capable of regenerating new trees. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused among my colleagues in the scientific community).
4. The Tropican Logging Industry:
The importance of logging to the well being of Tropician economics cannot be easily dismissed. Of course, the effectiveness of this industry relies on the efficiency of its workers, the lumberjacks. Tropican lumberjacks are powerful fellows, yet the number of axe swings required to fell and remove a tree can be quite variable.
4.1. The Whack Index:
Note: numbers given below are for workers of medium skill working at a camp that has NOT been upgraded. For highly skilled workers working at an upgraded camp, chop numbers (the Whack Index) may decrease to as little as 3 chops per activity
There are three (3) steps in the logging process:
- A) The tree must be felled, this generally requires 5-7 whacks, and an ugly stump is left behind.
- B) The felled tree must be further processed. A large felled tree consists of 11 subunits.
- 5 subunits represent small branches and leaves these are left to rot.
- 6 units represent the trunk of the tree these must be processed further, which requires 5-7 whacks per segment.
- C) The trunk units are then carried back to the camp where they are picked up by a teamster. Each trunk unit represents 0.6 of a load.
.Therefore, One tree can require as many as 49 whacks to process completely, while under optimal conditions this Whack Index may be reduced to as little as 21. Each tree yields 3.6 loads. These values appear to be unaffected by the species of the tree being harvested.
5. Tropican Laborers:
Before building, Tropican laborers must not only clear the site of trees, but also of stumps left by the loggers. Unlike in the case of the logger, an upright tree that has been felled by a laborer magically disappears, leaving no stump. Both trees and stumps require 5-7 whacks to be removed by a laborer. As in the case of the logger, I can find no pattern to the variability of the Whack Index, although it may correspond to skill level (future studies will examine this utilizing a larger sample size).
The following parameters were considered:
- A) Tree type:
- All indigenous tree species have the same Whack Index.
- However, ornamental trees and shrubs (those placed using the build menu) are an important exception.
- These plants are dug up rather than chopped down.
- They require five scoops with the shovel and are thus said to have a Scoop Index of 5 (Calm_Blue_Sea, In Press).
- It is of interest to note that the scoop index appears to be fairly constant in this case.
- These species are apparently not considered to be of economic importance and are therefore not harvested by the loggers (who, in any case, lack shovels).
- B) Build or Bulldoze Command:
- The Whack index does not appear to differ whether laborers are directly ordered to clear trees or are ordered to build on a treed area.
- C) Topography:
- Terrain is not expected to have an effect on the Whack/Scoop index of tree removal. This is an exciting area of research and will undoubtedly be the focus of future studies (pending appropriate funding).
.6. Clearing of Felled Trees:
The following discovery came as a shock to this researcher. If a laborer must clear a freshly fallen tree left by a lumberjack he is required to not only chop the stump, but also to scoop all 11 subunits from the ground (see above for explanation of subunits). These subunits require 5-8 scoops each to remove. Therefore, the removal of a freshly fallen tree and its associated stump may require a combined Whack/Scoop index as high as 86!
7. The Bottom line For Would-Be Tropican Developers:
Wood and lumber are valuable sources of income for the government of Tropico. On some islands, forests may be sparse or located far from the work force. In these cases, it may be best to log first and then build on the cleared land in order to keep the logging industry alive and prosperous. If this is done, it is imperative that loggers clear all deadwood from the ground before building is commenced. However, in cases where an area must be cleared for building immediately and the loss of trees is not an issue, it is best to build directly and let the labor force clear the land.
This study was funded by a grant from Café Tropico in cooperation with the Tropican Ministry of the Interior, The Union of Tropican Laborers, and the Ministry of Stumps And All Things Stump-Related (I'm still waiting for my check guys).
There it is - stripped of extraneous material. "The Whack Index!"