Sunday, 28 October 2007

How trees are harvested

Think you know what a lumberjack is? A big guy with a beard, a checked shirt and an axe? Possibly saving girls in red hoods from wolves dressed as grandmothers? Well think again...

For starters the people (men and women) who take down the trees are called loggers or harvesters...and its all part of forest management, which also includes tree planting, silviculture, landscaping and a range of other 'forest operations'.

Technology has changed the job considerably from the days of yore. Chainsaws started to replace axes back in the 1920s, but these days most of the trees grown for timber in countries like the UK are felled by machines a bit like the ones you see on construction sites. These machines can cut a tree, strip the branches and cut the logs to length in a matter of they have a lot of other fancy gadgets GPS to locate the trees marked for felling. Other types of specialised machines are used to get the logs to the road and on to the sawmills.

All this is done while causing minimum damage to the forest floor and to young trees. The forest owners don't want their future timber crops to be put at risk...or any income they get from other uses of the forests such as recreation and tourism.

In some areas the land is so inaccessible that other methods have to be used, such as horses and helicopters ...or even submarines and machines that walk on legs!

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