Timber Harvesting Systems

Descriptions of three basic timber harvesting systems?\whole-tree or full-tree, tree-length, and shortwood or cut-to-length?\follow. The systems differ in terms of the amount of processing that occurs at the tree stump and the form in which wood is transported to the landing for further processing or transport to the mill. One harvesting system may be better suited for accomplishing your objectives than others.

  1. Whole-tree or full-tree
    In this system, the entire tree?\including the stem, limbs, and top?\is brought to the landing with a skidder or horse. This system removes the maximum amount of material from a site. It also facilitates moving tops and limbs to the landing for processing, burning, or firewood production. However, because the entire tree is taken to the landing, residual trees may be damaged and a larger landing is needed to handle the size of material.
  2. Tree-length
    In this system, trees are felled and the top and limbs are removed before the trees are brought to the landing with a skidder or horse. By leaving limbs and tops at the stump, this system retains nutrients at the stump.
  3. Shortwood or cut-to-length In this system, the tree is felled, the top and limbs are removed, and the tree stem is bucked (cut) into individual forest products (such as pulpwood and sawtimber) at the stump area. The shorter product lengths allow a forwarder to move in tight areas. The forwarder may drive on slash mats, reducing soil compaction. A smaller landing is required in this system than in the other two.