This post is a bit overdue but it was an important step in the recent thinning of our wood, in the process of converting it to a mixed species, permanent forest. As we decided to remove about 30% of our 24yr trees in our woodland, this meant that from our 2.5 acres 250 trees werefelled! (we still have loads left and the felling has created geat, light filled areas for native seeds in the the ground to naturally regenerate! In our case, mostly Ash , since we have a canopy of bigger trees overhead).
The best time to fell trees is in Winter, when the sap in down and so they are much lighter and easier to handle. The logs also dry much quicker (which takes about a year) and most importanly you don’t upset the wildlife as much. However, even on a small site as ours, extracting the felled trees to an area where you can stack, dry and process the logs can be a back-breaking exercise. On small woodlands that may not have easy access, quad-bikes with winches can be used but in our case, our foresters, Chris Hayes and Allen Holman of Lightfoot Forestry for the first time in Ireland used a new system – a Swedish designed IronHorse! It’s a very original machine, mind you, the original Ironhorse wasn’t used for logs, but for moving moose! It combines a winch for lifting logs onto a small attached trailer and moves on caterpillar tracks so it doesn’t destroy the forest floor – hence the name of Chris and Allen’s positive impact forestry business. You can see Chris ‘leading the horse’ in photo.
The IronHorse also runs on biofuel and packs neatly onto a trailer and get this, its a bit like a food processor (sorry Chris, only analogy I could think of) – you can attach different arms and get it to clear ditches and other useful things.
The IronHorse is really only for areas upto around 10 acres, but it offers great manuevrablity as well as been a very light machine on areas that need to be sensitively felled, especially if trees are to felled near waterways. I must also mention that a month or too back when I briefly mentioned the IronHorse, I was contacted by an enthusiastic real live horse logger/blogger! This is another option for small woodland owners and it would be great sight to see Domino at work! Here’s Tom’s words on what horse logging is all about,
‘Logging is extremely physical work but hugely satisfying, and so important to keep alive now that we’re all much more aware of our countryside and woodlands. Its the ultimate low impact means of timber extraction using the horse as the base machine and with modern equipment designed to improve daily output we’ve come on in leaps and bounds from the days of snigging one log at a time. Horse logging is also the obvious choice for small woodlands and forests where a mechanical harvester doesn’t make economic sense or the land wouldn’t suit one, or maybe the land owner would just prefer to look at a fine well trained draught horse doing a first class job with no pollution or forest floor damage, and where the only noise is the quietly spoken horseman and the jingle of chains.
Tom Nixon, Trojan Heavy Horses
Coming soon: Spring is here, more news on Art & Ecology, making a ‘facebook for foresters/tree/timber growers’ website and a new ProSilva Publication! Oh and talking to Trevor Sargent and Duncan Stewart on bringing forests center stage for Ireland’s economy not to mention our climate change responsibility at last week’s National Forestry Conference (what else is a girl to do on a free Friday afternoon)