Get trackless with Skogforsk

On a simulator at the stand of Sweden’s forestry research institute Skogforsk, a test operator is carefully navigating a harvester across a log bridge built to protect a stream at a logging site. The aim is to inspire visitors to Elmia Wood to think about how to plan their logging operations to best protect watercourses in a forest environment and minimise the risk of ruts and other ground damage.

Isabelle Bergkvist and Gustav Friberg of Skogforsk want encourage trackless logging.

“In Skogforsk’s role as the Swedish forest industry’s research institute we’ve tried to build up a broad picture of people’s attitudes to water in the forest environment,” explains Gustav Friberg, a silviculture researcher at Skogforsk. “We’re pleased to note that in recent years there’s been a much greater focus on the issue of ground damage and a desire to leave no ruts. It’s become a competitive tool for contractors to show that they’re thinking about this issue.”

In addition to having the right attitude, other key elements in leaving no tracks are the work methods used plus technological advances.

“Planning is critical,” Friberg continues. “Today it’s much easier to plan even before you start logging by using such tools as soil moisture maps. Once the logging is underway then you can build a key extraction route on firm, elevated ground. Lay down a lot of brash along it because this is where most of the logs will be transported. The forwarder shouldn’t even venture into boggy areas – instead, the harvester should lift the timber into drier areas. Build log bridges across streams and other waterlogged areas to avoid all contact with water.”


Scan the ground conditions

Forest machine operators are also getting involved in the issue of ground damage.

“There’s been a lot of new developments focused on reducing ground pressure,” says Isabelle Bergkvist, Programme Manager Silviculture & Environment at Skogforsk. “Such as having ten wheels instead of eight. Another good example is the central tire inflation system (CTIS), which enables the operator to influence the machine’s ground pressure by increasing or decreasing the amount of air in the tires depending on the ground conditions.”

The flow of available data from the harvester is another useful tool.

“Today’s harvester computers transmit masses of data. If you add laser scanning of the ground conditions both above and underneath the surface, then the picture becomes even clearer. The more such data we get to work with, the more highly refined planning tools we will get,” Bergkvist continues.


International focus

Trackless logging is an issue on the agenda of many countries.

“We’re collaborating on this topic in a number of international contexts,” Isabelle Bergkvist says. “Geodata is increasing the possibilities of creating the optimal logging conditions at an early stage.”

“Contractors want to do a good job – the forest should look good when they’ve finished,” Gustav Friberg says. “We recommend that forest owners plan ahead and ask a contractor about how he plans his logging operations. If you know that you have boggy areas, streams etc. then ask the contractor how he plans to cross them. Modern contractors include this in their planning.”

Isabelle Bergkvist and Gustav Friberg of Skogforsk want encourage trackless logging.
Isabelle Bergkvist and Gustav Friberg of Skogforsk want encourage trackless logging.