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In many cases the type of machinery that is available locally will be critical in determining what options are realistic for extraction. there is more information on extraction systems here.
You should have some idea of the total cost of operations including:
Note: you will need to evaluate costs in relation to expected revenues. In many cases the woodfuel products will only have a low value, and higher value products generated as part of the same harvesting operation will raise a much higher income. It is also possible, especially in the case of very small scale operations, that cooperating with other local woodland owners/managers allows work to be more cost effective.
Some sites factors will limit the choice of extraction machinery. The Forestry Commission operates a terrain classification system based on:
Weather conditions, particularly rain, can change sites much more vulnerable to damage and modify the conditions in which machines can operate safely. The Forestry Commission have produced a document on terrain classification (TDB Technical Note 16/95), which can be obtained from Technical Development Services.
Small woodlands can be particularly vulnerable to environmental damage; to reduce potential impact, at the planning stage it is useful to consider:
Extraction systems and routes should be planned to minimise tree damage; for example, avoid skidding long poles against standing trees, or activities that may cause ground compaction as this could damage root systems.
Site access must be available for machinery to get to the site and for the produce from harvesting to be transported away. When hard roading (a forest road or adequate track) is not available then you may need to construct a suitable track.
In wood access: bear in mind that ground conditions within the wood may not be adequate to cope with all the machinery travel needed, and it might sometimes be necessary (for example key route or extraction route convergence at forest roads) to construct hard tracks. Such requirements will depend upon the total area to be harvested, extraction distances, load sizes and volumes to be extracted.
Extraction distance to the nearest road has a significant impact on machinery choice and cost.
A woodfuel woodland improvement grant is available to woodland owners in England to subsidise roading work. More details here.
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