Harvesting Innovations bring new Forestry Potential

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Harvesting Innovations Bring New Forestry Potential

Innovations in harvesting trees on steep slopes have potential to double the size of commercial forestry in New Zealand, according to the industry’s leading forestry research organisation.

Future Forest Research’s 2011 Annual Science Report outlines improvements in harvesting techniques and equipment to increase productivity, improve safety and cut costs.
“Cheaper and more effective methods of harvesting trees on New Zealand’s steep country are vital if the forest industry is to remain internationally competitive and to grow,” the report says.
“Once cost-effective solutions to steep country harvesting are achieved, it will enable greater expansion of forestry on to marginal land, most of which is on slopes over 20 degrees. This could double the size of commercial forestry in New Zealand.”
Over the past year FFR has worked with Kelly Logging Ltd and Trinder Engineers Ltd in Nelson to test and refine a new steep slope harvester developed by the companies that can safely fell, bunch and extract trees on slopes up to 50 degrees where ground conditions allow. An economic analysis by Scion showed the advantages of bunching with this machine included a 60% increase in the number of trees hauled, compared with manual felling.
With FFR’s support the companies are now developing a second prototype capable of operating at different angles more effectively on steep slopes. While Trinder Engineers work on refining the machine, FFR researchers are developing tools to assist the operator.
During the past year researchers have demonstrated how digital terrain models derived from aerial LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) can be displayed through an on-board monitor to assist the machine operator to navigate in complex terrain.
The natural progression of this research programme is to eliminate the need for an operator sitting in the machine through the development of remote control (tele-operation). Over the past year the groundwork has been laid for a remote control system capable of operating the feller-buncher on steep terrain. Once achieved, this technology will help to enable FFR’s vision of future logging operations with “no worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw”, removing workers from hazardous situations.
For more information contact: Chief Executive Russell Dale, ph 027-493-8061, email info@ffr.co.nz