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Making Small Scale Forestry Work (FWN 30)

26 March 2018

KF Forestry is a division of the multi-functional contract services offered by Kingdom Farming LLP who currently manage approximately 8000 acres.

KF Forestry offers skill and expertise to a diverse range of clients whilst offering a range of contractual options based on what a client’s objectives are.  Staff have extensive experience combined with high-quality training and a strong emphasis on health and safety.  KF Forestry carry out contracting works mainly within Fife and surrounding areas.  However, given that every site is unique it may prove cost-effective to travel further afield if certain site-specific conditions are met.

The standing hardwood to fuelwood market has never been more lucrative. Rising oil and gas costs have caused a steady rise in demand for quality firewood by producers supplying domestic markets looking to alternative, sustainable ways to heat their homes.  Therefore, the management and thinning of a hardwood stand is essential to improve the quality of the saw logs that will ultimately be produced.

With the more favourable fuelwood market, stands can now be thinned with the output from these operations being sold on.  These often generate enough income to cover the costs of the thinning operations and in the cases of exceptional quality, or of a particularly sought-after species, return a profit.

KF Forestry have helped clients see returns on their standing timber through harvesting and thinning efficiency, always minimising the impact to retained woodland and surrounding grounds.  In order to complete these works, KF Forestry use a variety of specialised machinery depending on what is required.

  • We operate compact harvesting and extraction machinery. Designed with economy, minimal damage to retained crop and minimal ground disturbance as a priority.
  • We can extract timber from sites in which larger machines would require substantial racks to be cut in order to move product to the landing.
  • Our 14-ton excavator with Kesla harvesting head is as versatile as it is productive and pairs excellently with our compact forwarder.
  • Our small footprint Novotny 511 forwarder is ideal for ecologically sensitive sites, urban forestry, areas where ground damage is a concern and in first and second thinnings where crop spacing would prove restrictive for larger machines.
  • Combined with a traditional tractor, trailer crane and winch we can extract timber from terrain that is inaccessible to other operators with larger equipment.

Whilst for cost-effective harvesting for smaller stands:

  • Motor manual harvesting helps our clients to realise the value in areas of forestry that would have previously been considered uneconomical due to their size and potentially low yield.
  • It is proving easier than ever to market timber and realise potential value, due to the expanding biomass, chip and saw log markets.
  • Low fuel, operating and haulage costs are essential to maximise a return on your stand. Uniquely equipped, KF Forestry can harvest and market your round timber as cost-effectively as is possible.

To achieve new economy in first and second thinnings:

  • Thinning of plantation woodland is essential to improve the quality and development of the remaining trees and thus to maximise economic returns on the initial investment.
  • Traditionally, first thinnings are an overhead that is necessary in the successful management of a wood, with felled trees being left in the wood to breakdown. Now with an increasing demand for biomass, chip-wood and saw logs it is possible to finance these operations, by capitalising on the felled timber and in some cases returning a profit.
  • It is essential that the thinning operation are done in a way that minimises the felling of trees out with the scope of the management plan and that retained stock is protected from damage that would affect the quality of the mature crop.
  • The versatile 14-ton excavator based harvester and our Novotny forwarder make for an effective duo meaning less damage to the ground and root systems and less scratching of retained stock during harvesting and loading.

In order for a job to work well for us, it needs to work well for the client. However, what works well is very dependent on the specific site.  In some cases, you may have a high volume of timber but a two-kilometre extraction route, this would impact the profitability of the site significantly. And in another case, you may have a good quality stand of timber whether it be thinning or clear-fell with a short extraction route creating a profitable job for both client and contractor.

Carrying out small scale clear fell and thinning operations through to larger sites we offer a range of contractual options based on what a client’s objectives are.  Be it pro-rata, day or tonne rate, fixed price or ‘for timber’. First and foremost, our main objective is to return a profit to the client after the harvesting and extraction costs have been paid for.  For this to be the case there is certain site-specific factors which have to be taken into consideration, for example:

  • total volume of yield
  • species and quality of timber
  • total hectares
  • length of extraction
  • density of crop

After an initial site visit and consultation, we can advise as to whether your stand is ecologically or economically viable.

Kieran Kelly, KF Forestry

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