The objective of this handbook is to compile all of the information needed to effectively plan and carry out forest road construction and maintenance operations in one location. Many handbooks exist on forest road construction and maintenance, but none have been written for the South African forest industry. A wide-ranging group of experts was brought together to determine the content and layout of this publication. Forest roads provide required access for management of forest resources. Timber harvesting, fire protection, recreation, and administrative activities are highly dependent on access through a good forest road network. The replacement value of the South African forest road network is conservatively estimated to be R900 million. It is also estimated that the industry collectively spends R45 million per annum on road maintenance and upgrading. The South African forest road network density is estimated to range from 55m/ha to as high as 150m/ha.
While roads are viewed as an asset to the forest, they are also a source of erosion and sediment input to dams, lakes, rivers, and other waterways. These effects negatively impact aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, and present a negative public image of forest management. Additionally, forest roads remove valuable forestland from active production. A well-planned road network minimises the amount of roads built by optimising road location and spacing, reducing construction and maintenance costs, while ensuring maximum productivity of the forest estate. This handbook provides state-of-the-art information on planning, managing, and constructing forest roads. In the current regulatory and social climate, a well-planned, -constructed and -maintained forest road network is critical to economically and environmentally sustainable forestry operations.
Throughout this handbook, careful attention is paid to minimising environmental impacts, while maximising efficiency and usability of the transportation network. Another factor, which must never be overlooked, is safety. Every operator is responsible for complying with all safety regulations on every operation.