Is selective felling possible in BC's coastal forests?

gates gates at
Mon Feb 2 00:23:27 EST 1998

In article <xLD7lAAxBy00EwOA at>, theo hopkins
<thopkins at> writes
>(This question is posted from the UK).
>I would like folks opinions on the practical technical possibility of
>this type of felling, given: 
>1. the size of the trees, typically 2 foot/60cm to 5 foot/150 cm dbh.

Trees of any size can be selectively felled but you may take a few with
them.  Of course this is the general idea in hand felling so one tree
fells a few (domino effect) but you have to line them up right.
>2. Slopes wich are commonly up to 30 degrres (or sometimes more).

Slopes are not a problem for men and you would need men and maybe horses
to do the job well and economically.  The motorised alternative (we will
grant a let on the men using chainsaws [g]) will use vehicles to drag
logs out to logging tracks where the big trucks can work but of course
such vehicles will these days be at a premium in logging areas.
Everyone upsized for clear felling huge areas and downsizing is not
practical or economical without knackering the family runabout.  The
answer is smaller military vehicles bought 2nd hand at auction.
Something like a 3 ton truck with a winch is about right or maybe an old
Stalwart or even "pig" armoured personnel carrier.  In Canada they can
presumably not mind the fuel costs and they are famous for doing 140mph
or so when tuned up.    
>If people think it is not technically possible, then:
>3. What is the smallest clearcut that can be worked?

The practical size for a small clearcut is stretchy depending on
underbrush and whether 1st/2nd growth forest or later (all straight
rows).  No clearing should be left in any forest or winds will get in.
Clearcutting on vast scales is unsociable and bad for nature.  The
answer is to underplant to leave a secondary part canopy once main trees
are felled and to plant shrubs, etc. straight away and in spring
operations to avoid winds entering woods (also ice storms as has
recently been found even in new planting where you would normally reckon
few inch trunks will bend and spring back but they don't).  It is also
possible to replant at this time in or by stumps.  I am not sure how
much these stumps would be considered snags.  They would in a clearcut
area but of course men can walk round them and the stumps will rot down
by the next cut so smaller operations are sexier that way.  The
advantages are many.  The bushes can be cropped if accessible but will
die as trees cut their light out again.  Meanwhile they resist winds,
are expendable where they won't rob too much water from trees (plenty of
rainfall for all type areas) and provide habitat.  This can attract
hunters, etc. so tourism money becomes available in some part.  New
planting that does not take allows some wee gaps more like 2nd growth
woods and of course it is essential these trees be planted zig zag, in
curves or following contours so no wind tunnels exist.  You can plant
closer together too as wind and light do not cause \ / growth patterns
as much.  Teams will want to work an area a day.  The gap between areas
need only be the same size as can be felled.  Again this pocket
handkerchief approach allows habitat/wildlife to remain in large
measure.  Opened areas will have a temporary spurt of natural
vegetation.  One old tree should be left in each clearing.  To begin the
system a third of trees can be left in clearing and taken later when new
planting has formed a canopy.  The next cut, of the secondary canopy,
will be taken when the planting after taking the last third of old trees
has formed a tertiary canopy.  Always though leave the oldest tree in
each clearing until it is decrepit then cull it and leave another.
These master trees are essential for wildlife, spirituality and more
including tree seed production.  Every cut is accompanied by shrub
planting as well as tree replanting.  The shrubs can be cropped of
course between cuts or, if the crop is to be say root faggots, for
burning, art or perhaps processing into fake logs for burning with much
softer material and urea, they can only be taken with logging
operations.  The gap is obviously important and I'm suggesting 30 year
cuts or thereabouts.  However, to begin, you'd take 2/3rds trees minus
one, then perhaps 15 years later rest of old trees + first faggot crop,
then 15 years later 1st secondary canopy crop of half of all trees,
(minus 1), + faggot crop, then leave it 30 years.  Alternatively the 15
year cycle can be continued if the bank is empty or the crop is
sufficient.  In with all this there would be tourism and such other
forest products as can be gleaned like truffles.  All this said you are
actually cutting somewhere all the time as each clearing is planted at a
different time and patches twixt clearing will themselves get cleared
tween times.  So you mark areas 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, cut 1,3,5,7,9, then
2,4,6,8.  On a basis of say 200 days work you divide up land into 200
lots and clear a row of alternate lots then the next row of lots in the
position across from it like doing all the white squares on a chess
board then doing all the black squares.

Now, why ask the question?  It will take some more education yet before
either the growers want to do it right and not clearcut and the workers
get to a stage where they can see a return to a more manual working is a
sound idea.  They are all getting around to seeing tha younger timber,
especially on an occasionally cut basis, can be a sound crop.  It would
be a good idea to get them to plant broadleaved species where a suitable
one will grow, if only in 10% of lots, while another 10% in addition to
single master trees are left as reserve.  Finally the breeding of horses
again, say Suffolk Punch or Percheron crosses, will itself be a crop for
growers, an adjunct economy and a mighty friend for the men.  By the way
they now live in villages not camps but it would be appropriate to have
a camp on the logging trail again at least for batchelors, etc.  using a
tent on wheels.  Strips of fabric make the walls on some modern
greenhouses though the roof is solid.  Tents like this on wheels could
be hauled by one horse quite happily to provide a shelter for all.
(Strips prevent much wind entry but lets light in and no glass = light
weight.  Wheels are small on greenhouses but could be manufactured more
like moonbuggy wheels for logging trails.  A wheel goes either side of a
shaft at each corner so no right across axles get in the way.  The
structure is not a fire risk as fabric can be glass fibre oriented.  You
can even use space heaters in them but fires will damage the roof.  Also
the tree line needs trimming to allow progress.  All that said, wheels
at one end could carry platforms for loading some goods like the heater.
One man can pull a greenhouse across a field easily so one horse could
pull the logging shelters.  There could be one for horses and kit and
one for men.  Actual tents used by men for warmth can be pitched under
the higher roof and being dry always can easily be portered on each day.
This will only be needed in colder weather but meantime some simple
barriers would be necessary for privacy, showers, etc.  Toilet block
caravans with hot water and flush toilets can easily be used too.  Men
returning each day can bring fresh water or pump wagon to pump out
toilets.  All mentioned facilities would quickly pay for themselves in
reduced costs and then savings should go on medic care and maybe
windgen. power for camping TV's etc.)                 Regards

Les Ballard         Les at

c/o BM: Gates of Annwn       (The Pagan contact magazine)
London WC1N 3XX,  U.K.       44+(0)1708 863080

No copyright statement is attached as the author is litigious.

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