Forest owners spur the demand for smaller machines

SkogsElmia 2011 was something of a breakthrough for small forest machines for professional use.

“Interest is coming from forest contractors with large machines who want to complement their fleet,” explains Magnus Wallin, who makes a combi machine under the brand name of Malwa.

The Malwa is a combined harvester and forwarder. During SkogsElmia near Jönköping, Sweden, the machine was demonstrated with a harvester head and attracted great attention. It was obvious that here was a substantial machine designed for professional use.

But what lies behind the increased customer interest? Magnus sees two explanations.

First, forests in southern Sweden were heavily damaged a few years ago due to two major storms. A huge amount of timber had to be removed within a very short period of time. The resulting ground damage meant that many private forest owners in the affected areas can no longer get out into their forests on an ordinary farm tractor.

“The forest owners are insisting that contractors use smaller machines so as not to make the problem worse,” Magnus says.

Second, a large proportion of private forest owners in Sweden are now reaching retirement age. They can no longer do first thinning with a chainsaw. A small harvester allows them to still be active out in the forest. Many of them also hope that more nimble machines will make it more appealing to their children and grandchildren to take over the family business in future.

“But it’s mostly the contractors who want to add a small group of machines that can operate in-stand,” Magnus concludes. “During SkogsElmia one of our visitors was a contractor who had fourteen large forest machines, and whose customers were pressuring him to also use smaller ones.”

“In some ways SkogsElmia has been a turning-point for us,” says Magnus Wallin of the Swedish machine manufacturer Malwa. “Most interest is coming from forest contractors who want to add a small group of in-stand machines to their range of machinery.”