Timber harvesting offers many challenges to practitioners, harvesting planners and harvesting managers. Among these challenges is the selection and optimal application of harvesting equipment and systems for ground based harvesting operations. Ground based equipment and systems can operate successfully under a wide range of conditions, and the conditions suitable to each system can overlap considerably. Even though the choice between harvesting systems and equipment may result from personal or corporate preferences, and in other cases, the same equipment may be used on different sites; operating techniques must be changed to achieve desired results. Regardless of the selection process, understanding the operational, economic, environmental, ergonomic, safety and social ramifications of choosing a particular type of harvesting equipment is of paramount importance. While there are as many different ways to arrive at a decision as there are contractors, planners, and equipment owners, each decision should be based on a thorough understanding of the implications of selecting the different equipment types. Better understanding of this will lead to improved decisions and harvesting operations.
This Ground Based Harvesting Handbook has been compiled to be as comprehensive as possible and to suit all levels of work and expertise. The Handbook is intended to provide both a broad and detailed overview of the equipment capabilities and limitations and at the same time provide for other internal and external factors affecting ground based harvesting operations. The Handbook describes various equipment types and harvesting systems used in South Africa and internationally. It outlines harvesting site characteristics, operating techniques, external requirements and their effect on different types of harvesting equipment available currently. The Handbook was also written to allow for practical decision-making in operations, to allow experienced foresters, contractors and planners to broaden their exposure to harvesting equipment and systems, and to function as an educational and training resource manual for broad application in the South African Forestry Industry. From the outset it was recognised that this Handbook would likely serve a wider audience than South Africa; and as such the authors and editors maintained a generic approach and refrained from expanding on specific legalistic issues pertaining potentially only to South Africa. Although the Handbook provides information about the capabilities of the various harvesting equipment and systems, it does not link them directly to the requirements of any specific forest code or best practice guidelines. That task is left to the user of the Handbook, as a separate exercise.
The Handbook is divided into seven chapters. Chapters one and two provide a general introduction and overview of ground based harvesting and transport methods and systems; nomenclature and terms, and an introduction to supply chain management. Chapter three identifies specific ground based harvesting equipment from felling, processing, extraction to loading; which includes material handling. It specifies terminology and nomenclature pertaining to specific equipment, detail of capabilities, productivity indices, equipment applications and roles in ground based harvesting systems. Chapters four and five deal with machine and systems costing and an introduction into strategic, tactical and operational harvesting planning. Finally chapters six and seven address potential environmental impacts and mitigating factors plus guidelines, and health and safety in general. The glossary of terms is intended to be as cmprehensive as possible in order to provide a standardised base for effective communication between different parties involved in timber harvesting.