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Cover photo: The forwarder is suitable for varying conditions and the most challenging terrains.

PNG Biomass is planning to introduce a highly efficient system of mechanised harvesting to its tree farms in the Markham Valley. It will be using cut-to-length logging (CTL) technology which is a mechanised harvesting system in which trees are delimbed and cut to length directly at the stump. CTL is typically a two-man, two-machine operation with a harvester felling, delimbing, and bucking trees and a forwarder transporting the logs from the felling to a landing area close to a road accessible by trucks.

CTL is the most efficient method for timber harvesting in tree plantations where stems are often harvested before they reach large dimensions. CTL is the primary logging method used in European countries, while full-tree logging and tree-length logging are more popular in North America and less developed countries.

Full-tree logging generally involves four steps and different types of heavy equipment, while CTL only requires two steps and heavy machines.

CTL logging comes at a higher capital cost per volume, but the advantages of CTL compared to full-tree logging are numerous:

  • The wood is cleaner since the logs are not skidded on the ground to the landing
  • More fresh wood (in tree length more than full tree)
  • Less damage to retained trees in thinning operations
  • Requires fewer different types of machines
  • No need to clear large landings close to the road
  • Greater personnel safety due to enclosed and protected machine cabs
  • More environmentally friendly due to:
    • less soil disturbance than in skidding operations
    • no slash dumped at the landing
    • on-the-spot debarking leaves the majority of nutrients in field

PNG Biomass is working with two potential suppliers from the USA and Europe to establish a fleet of at least seven harvesters and four forwarders. In addition, a fleet of log trucks will be required, which the project is planning to operate in partnership with landowner companies. All the machinery is designed to be low impact, so they won’t cause compaction of soil and minimise other environmental impacts.

The use of advanced CTL logging technology requires more operator know-how and training. For this reason, PNG Biomass will set up a training program in next 12 months to train local operators 24 months prior to the first commercial tree harvests.

The harvester has a unique crane solution that offers excellent visibility in all directions allowing for efficient and unlimited operation – the trees to be felled, felling direction and position of piles can be selected freely, keeping efficiency and eco-friendliness in mind.

The harvesting head can fell, debark and cut to length in one single pass.

 

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