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Among the Trees

Getting Out Among The Trees

Working in the heavy machinery industry brings so many options for a varied career, whether it’s operating a crane, building office blocks in the cities, or building roads right across the country, but for some, it can mean a life in the forest, but what machines are used in forestry work if that sounds like your kind of job?

Some may be surprised at just how much heavy machinery is used in forestry work, and how many jobs there are for heavy machinery operators who like the idea of such work.  The machines most commonly used in forestry work fall into two main types, those based on a standard tracked heavy equipment base, using various arms to carry out different tasks, and the wheeled types, which mainly fall into variations of skidders.

First, we can look at the tracked machines:

The Feller Buncher

Designed to quickly fall trees, the feller buncher is based on the standard tracked heavy machinery base and uses a tree-grabbing device on its arm that also contains a high-powered circular saw, or in some cases a shear. It can grab and cut a tree in one motion, and then place the tree on a stack ready for transport.


Again, based on a standard tracked heavy machinery base, the delimber is designed to remove branches from felled trees. There are various methods of achieving this, some use chain flails, and others are of a pull-through construction.


A Harvester is similar to a Feller Buncher but is adapted to operate for cut-to-length operations, able to fell, delimb and buck trees, that is cut the tree to length with one machine.

Now, we can look at the wheeled machines:


In a tractor and trailer arrangement, a forwarder is designed with a lifting arm to pick up the felled longs and transport them away from the site. Because the logs are lifted off the ground onto the trailer, they are somewhat restricted in the length of the log they can deal with and are primarily found at cut-to-length operations, working in tandem with a harvester.


For operations that deal with long logs or full trees, the felled trunks are moved using a skidder. As the name implies, these vehicles are able to deal with long logs because they only lift one end, leaving the other to skid along the ground behind.

There are three common types of skidder, the Clam-bunk, which uses open topped hydraulic jaws to pick up the felled trees, the Line skidder, which uses a winch cable that is manually reeled out and attached to a group of felled trees, or the Grapple Skidder, which has a grapple bucket arm used to grab and lift the trees.

Forestry work is attractive to many as it puts you out in the fresh air, and a training course for heavy machinery can give you plenty of options when it comes to your career.

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