Logging Equipment and Processes Part 2

old fashioned logging practices
This is part 2 of a 2 part blogging series exploring the equipment and processes utilized when harvesting timber. As was explained in part one of this series, the equipment and logging process utilized to harvest your timber will have a direct impact on both the condition your land is left in, as well as the future productivity and vigor of your forest. While there is no right or wrong answer to how you should harvest your timber, you must be informed of the differences between common practices in order to make an informed decision.

There is a very real tradeoff between immediate financial return from harvesting a parcel of land and optimizing the future value of high-quality lumber and veneer products that your standing timber will be able to produce.

While there are many different methods utilized by logging companies to harvest timber, the most logging methods employed in the Midwestern and Appalachian regions are clearcutting and tree-length, selective harvesting. These two means of harvesting are explained in further detail below.

Clearcut Logging

By the name, this style of timber harvesting is fairly self explanatory. On a clear-cut logging job, trees of all sizes and species are removed, usually down to a very small diameter. The more mature hardwood above a diameter of about 15" is sold to sawmills and veneer companies. Smaller trees are placed onto trucks and sold as pulpwood, firewood and raw material for producing paper products.

While clearcutting generally produces the largest immediate cash return from a tract of timber, it is by far the most devastating. In the case of hardwood stands, clearcutting leaves the forest unable to produce additional timber and other forest-products for many decades afterwards.

clear cutting timber in Ohio
Clearcutting timber, though not always inappropriate given the goals of a landowner, can have devastating results.
Further, clearcutting results in a stand of trees that are identically aged and will, therefore, mature at the same time and in general, yield a smaller yield on investment than more conscientiously, purposefully purposefully-harvested timber.

Ecological Considerations

Regardless of the primary motivation of a timber harvest, it can be carried out in an environmentally-ethical yet profit maximizing manner.
Essentially, the quality of a timber stand represents the expected yield of future high-quality lumber and veneer products. As has been mentioned, more aggressive cutting schemes do yield better financial returns in the immediate term, but a properly managed timber stand should provide a good economic return with the ecological benefits of maintaining a vibrant forest and wildlife habitat. This is why Timber Works endorses an active management ideally towards mixed-age silviculture but ultimately at the . Logging considerations should be made to achieve the goals of a landowner, be that enhanced wildlife habitat, maximizing future quality or financial return.

Regardless of the primary motivation of a timber harvest, it can be carried out in an environmentally-ethical yet profit maximizing manner.

Note: Please note that the information contained in these posts pertains mostly to hardwood timber stands, verses stands of non-deciduous trees such as Pine and Conifer. Some statements that are true for hardwood timber may not necessarily hold for softwood species.

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