November 17, 2015

Tips for Limiting the Environmental Impact of Your Operation

It's no secret that timber harvesting can create ruts and compaction in the forest. These can both impact rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater, wetlands and plant life on harvest sites. On sites where wetlands or upland soils are present, low ground pressure techniques may be applied to limit the impact of timber harvesting on the environment. By using the following tips to limit your footprint, you can extend the harvest season on sensitive environments, operate on wetter sites with less impact, and reduce the need for building crossings for machinery.

  • Harvest Planning – Take some time to plan your harvest in advance to lower your environmental impact. Think about seasonal restrictions, like harvesting on sensitive soils during winter months while the ground is frozen. This will also help limit root damage to existing trees. Consider route planning to avoid tight curves and inefficient routes, minimizing routes over soft or sensitive spots. Look for opportunities to place routes perpendicular to slopes and adjust routes as necessary during harvest.
  • Size and Type of Equipment – Match the size and type of equipment to application, like using smaller machines for thinning operations or in environments with sensitive soils. Consider tire, chain, and track options according to soil capacity and climate.
  • Machine drive – Consider configuring your machine with dual tires, float tires, or utilizing tracked machine forms to limit ground pressure. Machines will be less likely to create ruts or sink into wet soils. Limiting the impact on the ground in the forest can help forest regeneration cycle times and reduce the impact on wildlife in these precious ecosystems.
  • Operation – Make sure to allow enough room on trails for forwarder to operate or for skidders to haul. This will help prevent damage to trees that aren't to be harvested. If slash is not collected, use to cover haul and operations roads to help limit ground pressure and rutting. Or, if slash is harvested, consider leaving to dry for a year to drop needles and leaves for fertilizer.

Many European countries have laws set in place that protect forests from destruction during harvest and require reforestation. While these laws may not be enforced in the U.S., they are good guidelines for sustainable business. By considering just a few of these, your harvest can be beneficial to your business as well as limit the impact on the environment.