August 17, 2022

The term timber harvesting refers to the entire process of cutting down the trees and reforestation, i.e., planting new ones. It also involves processing and transforming the timber into other materials. This process is governed by guidelines that prevent the overexploitation of these resources. This article will talk about the sustainable approach to harvesting timber. But first, let us discuss some of the benefits of timber harvesting guidelines:

The benefits of timber harvesting guidelines

The guidelines help reduce the harmful effects of the harvesting process, such as erosion, rotting of trees, and mixing surface soils, which can damage the land and make it barren. 

They also help preserve the natural properties of the soil, making it able to provide water and nutrients to plants. All of these activities help decrease the need for soil rehabilitation when foresters want to plant new trees. This will reduce the expenses during reforestation. 

The timber harvesting guidelines also ensure that the vegetation within the forest area is not heavily altered. The vegetation is part of an ecosystem put in place by nature to support life in that region. It also helps to make the area visually pleasing, which people can use for recreation. 

Typically, timber harvesting should be done in an organized and structured pattern. However, lots of people do the opposite and do not care about the environment. So, the guidelines are put in place to regulate the harvest size, land and vegetation destruction, and good visuals. 

The digging of the soil and exploitation of timber can result in pollution of nearby water bodies, which is not suitable for the nearby wildlife and settlements. So, timber harvesting guidelines help minimize this pollution and ensure good water sources and regular flow. 

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The forests are made up of all types of plants and animal species. Timber harvesting can disrupt and destroy their natural habits making some species go extinct or even venture into human settlements for shelter. That is one of the reasons why the timber harvesting guidelines have been established to prevent the destruction of their habitat.

Operational

Protecting sensitive areas

Some forest areas are considered sensitive because they contain special soils and other topographic landscapes that, when affected, will lead to a greater impact on the environment. That is why these types of areas should be protected and not disturbed. 

Avoid using heavy machinery on steep slopes. It may lead to accidents and the destruction of surrounding vegetation. So, it is better to analyze the landscape and employ the appropriate harvesting techniques. 

Carry out a survey and on-site meetings before moving equipment to the operation site. This will help understand what needs to be done and how it can be done efficiently without causing much harm to the surrounding vegetation and wildlife. 

If your operation is to be done on a landscape of cultural importance, ensure minimal land disturbance and avoid placing permanent artificial equipment which will obstruct wildlife. Also, ensure the preserve the natural view of the cultural landscape. 

Landing

  • When drafting the harvesting agreement, make sure to include the number and location of landings.
  • Spell out all equipment to be used in harvesting, trees to be cut, and the size of the landing. 
  • The landings and roads should not occupy more than 3 percent of the entire timber harvesting area. 
  • Ensure that the landings are located on stable ground or on upland areas where applicable. Also, it should be placed away from cultural resources areas.
  • Do not place landings on locations where runoffs from surrounding areas converge.
  • Avoid using open water wetlands as a location for landing and yarding areas. 
  • Place landing away from recreation areas and travel routes. 
  • Use only the required amounts of landings.
  • Clear the area of all products when development needs to take place. 
  • Ensure that the stumps of trees and fallen trees are not visible.
  • Clear the landing of all trash once you are done.
  • Place landings in areas that can be used on subsequent sales. 
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Skidding and skid trails

  • Create and maintain skid trails in areas where damage to residual stand or cultural resources will be minimized. Also, place it in areas that will minimize erosion, runoffs, and sedimentation. 
  • Minimize the number of skid trails placed in the area to ensure little or no disturbance. Place the skid trails away from cultural areas. Also, do not place skid trails in filter strips and riparian. Avoid operation of heavy machinery on slopes steeper than 50 percent. 
  • It is preferable to use full-tree skidding in areas of cultural resource. 
  • Ensure that the skid trails are always in good condition.
  • You can reuse skid trails for thinning operations. 

The right technique and forest health

It is always a great idea to use a management technique that fits the structure of the area you want to exploit. Thinnings help to regulate growth, increase revenue and augment the existing strand. Regeneration cuttings ensure enough space for young trees to grow while removing older trees. In forests where the trees are about the same age, regeneration cutting creates a new forest with trees of the same ages. However, in forests of various ages, this cutting method creates a segmented forest containing multiple generations of trees. 

Find the best buyer for your logs. Note that the highest price may not necessarily mean the best profits for you. You may select a buyer willing to pay the highest prices, but when you factor in the cost of transportation, there is little, or no profit left for you. The winter and spring come with higher prices for logs. So, to take advantage of this period, you need to enforce your roads and be prepared to harvest a large amount of logs.

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