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Safety in the Forest
3:15pm Wednesday 30th January 2013 in Rural Focus
A SIGNIFICANT amount of timber is harvested each year in the New Forest as part of the annual cycle of sustainable tree felling and tree planting. During the winter months in particular, the forest produces tonnes of quality hardwoods.
While visitors to the New Forest may not see much of this harvesting work first-hand, there is always a number of teams working out in the forest at any given time, including contractors employed to assist our staff.
My role is to supervise the smooth running of the harvesting operations according to Forest Design plans, incorporating habitat management and overseeing the contractors to ensure their work has minimal impact on the forest and its visitors.
We recently carried out some harvesting work in Burley. More than 100 fir trees, which we estimate are 50 years old, had grown very close to the busy Lyndhurst road near power lines. With winter in full swing and high winds likely to uproot the trees, the best option was to remove the trees completely.
A huge amount of planning and a great deal of team effort takes place well in advance of any tree felling.
The task requires a lot more consideration than simply bringing the trees to the ground.
In this instance, the Forestry Commission worked in partnership with energy company Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) to devise a comprehensive plan to clear the fir trees.
Because of the trees being within felling distance to live power lines, there were some complicated technical issues which required specialist contractors. SSEPD agreed to use their tree cutting teams to carry out the works. Before any felling could take place, the overhead electrical lines were dropped by SSEPD line teams.
The tree cutters then prepared for the felling by removing large branches and cutting the trees to about ten metres in height. That meant they could successfully complete the overall felling in just six hours, with minimal interruption to SSEPD’s live network.
The harvested timber will be sold to local sawmills to be used for packaging materials, generating important income for the Forestry Commission. The revenue generated by this type of harvesting is invested directly back into forest management such as tree planting, recreation and conservation.
By Michael Ullman,
Harvesting Works Supervisor