Another benefit is the lack of skidding - or dragging - tree length wood through the forest. All trees are cut to small lengths within the harvest area and loaded onto a forwarder, which then carries them to the yard for unloading. This process means less ground soil disturbance, retention of smaller regeneration that may be present, and no scarring of surrounding trees.
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Cut to length logging is the most technologically advanced timber harvesting system available today. Two machines perform the diverse functions of felling, delimbing, bucking, sorting, and extraction. The processor is the heart of this system. This one piece of equipment does the work of three: felling, limbing and bucking trees into sawlogs and pulpwood at the stump. Logs destined for a variety of markets each have their own price and specifications for length, diameter, and defects. The processed wood is then hauled to the landing by a forwarder. Cut to length logging is used in a variety of logging operations, produces a variety of forest products and is well suited to partial harvests where protecting residual trees is a high priority.
The cut-to-length system presents several advantages to both the logger and the landowner. Loggers often find that utilizing these two machines translates into lower labor, fuel, and maintenance costs. Because the processor can sort processed wood in the forest, extraction by the forwarder is deemed a much easier task. This system is extremely flexible and can be used in a variety of forest management prescriptions and plans on diverse sites.
Landowners often perceive cut to length harvesting to be light on the land. The processor reaches from a trail to cut trees and carefully guides them to the ground in the direction the trail will continue ahead of them. This reduces damage to residual trees compared to manual felling. Branches and tops are removed directly in front of the processor. Both the processor and the forwarder drive over this slash as they navigate through the forest. The crushed slash forms a debris mat that protects the soil from compaction and rutting. Low slash height is considered aesthetically pleasing and the debris mat decomposes quickly, returning nutrients to the soil.