Monday, 13 October 2008

Coppice Harvesting course - Day 1

We're on a coppice harvesting course all week, here's today's update. The course is run by David Rossney of Esus Forestry.

We started by choosing between two areas that both need coppicing, and having picked one David used a spray can to mark out lines through the coppice that we would work along. The idea is to leave clear paths that a vehicle with a mechanical grab can drive down, with stacks of 16-foot logs along the sides for it to collect.

Once the three of us (me, Tracy and Paul) were spread out with our own patches to work in, we got started by "breaking in" - felling small trees to create a clearing to fell larger trees into, and have a fire in. To maximise efficiency the small stuff was all cleared first, cutting it into lengths for the fire, then moving on to felling the larger trees. The aim was to fell trees so that the top was near the fire, ready to burn the brash, and the bottom was near the edge of the strip we were working, ready to add to a log pile.

After creating a clearing it was possible to set up a "bench" across the strip:
The bench is held by a sling at one end:
The purpose of the bench is that you can fell trees onto it, so that they're at a comfortable height for snedding (removing branches) and cutting the logs to length. Once you've cut one 16-foot length off and snedded the part near the fire, you can drag the tree back over the bench to do the next log, and also the next bit of snedding. This way all the brash ends up next to the fire, and all the logs in one place. Here's Tracy's spot:
Once an area is cleared, you move the bench and the fire along ready to do the next bit. The logs are stacked at the edges, and the grab will be able to reach the end piles without even going into the wood:
as it goes along the main ride:
In between the hard work we've time for drinks and a chat too:
We'll be back to it again tomorrow, starting in the wood at 8:30am and finishing about 5pm.


If you missed the other posts, Day 2 is here, Day 3 is here, Day 4 is here, Day 5 is here.

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