Growing a productive forest requires hard work and commitment. Correctly timed thinning improves the forest’s growth conditions and makes trees grow sturdier more quickly. Thinning supports forest biodiversity when part of the forest is always in the growth phase.
“Thinning can also be called improvement felling, as it ensures the productivity of the forest, and the high quality and health of trees,” says Tuomo Moilanen, forest specialist at Ponsse. “The better a forest grows, the better it sequesters carbon. Thinning ensures that trees can be processed into high-quality products that sequester carbon for dozens or even hundreds of years,” says Moilanen.
In cut-to-length (CTL) harvesting, trees are already processed up to the intended length in the forest, enabling thinning to be ecological. When the harvester operator plans trails so that they can also be driven by the forwarder, trees can be both felled and transported without needing to move around unnecessarily in the forest.
“At thinning sites, the distance between trails is roughly 20 metres, and trees remaining by the side of the trail will grow in Finnish conditions 20–25 % more quickly, because they will have room to grow, both above and below,” Moilanen says.
Most premium forestry equipment manufacturers have machines designed to handle thinning operations in different conditions. One of these is the Finnish-based Ponsse. These machines are distributed and supported in South Africa by MTS Parts, based in Piet Retief in Mpumalanga.
The six-wheeled PONSSE Beaver and the eight-wheeled PONSSE Fox are ideal solutions for first thinning. PONSSE Fox is an excellent choice, especially when operating in soft terrain. High-flotation tracks should be selected as optional equipment for softer terrain to prevent surface damage.
At heavier thinning sites, the PONSSE Cobra and Scorpion harvesters, combined with the H5 or H6 harvester head, are the best choices in terms of productivity. In PONSSE Scorpion, the unobstructed visibility in all directions, together with cabin and crane levelling, makes working smooth even at dense thinning sites. As eight-wheeler machines, both models are also excellent in soft terrain.
While Elk and Wisent are the most popular PONSSE forwarders for thinning sites, Buffalo is also a good choice, especially when distances are longer, and the aim is to improve productivity. The forwarder can easily pick up trees from thinning sites when trails are properly protected (with branches) and as straight as possible; the fewer sharp bends there are, the less surface damage is caused.
At thinning sites, the harvester head should be selected according to the dominant tree species. However, it should be considered that damaged trees and other trees in poor condition must also be removed from thinning sites, calling for sawing and feed force from the harvester head. The harvester head must be reliable at thinning sites because a large number of trees are produced quickly during each shift.
At thinning sites, much rests on the forest machine operator – the operator decides what trees are removed and what are left standing. The forest owner hands over their assets to a professional forest machine operator to receive the highest possible profit, also in the future.
During September Ponsse organized an online event where customers and specialists explained more about solutions for thinning sites.
Watch the web event here...
Ponsse on steep slopes
Ponsse’s cut-to-length forest machines have proved to be excellent harvesting solutions on steep slopes. Environmentally friendly and safe harvesting solutions for slopes are in high demand, especially when harvesting takes place in areas with varying terrain and steepness.
“Our solutions are always based on our customers’ needs, and our forest machines designed for steep slopes are no exception. We test and develop them together with our customers in truly demanding conditions, for example, in China, Brazil, North America and in Central Europe,” says Marko Mattila, Sales, Service and Marketing Director at Ponsse. “We have invested in the testing and research equipment required for the development of slope harvesting solutions at our Vieremä factory, and we have even built an artificial slope for testing and studying in detail how our products operate in slope conditions.”
PONSSE Synchrowinch is one of the most important optional equipment required for cut-to-length (CTL) forest machines when working on steep slopes. It helps the forest machine remain highly productive in an environmentally friendly and safe way compared to alternative manual methods also in demanding conditions. Working on slopes is no novelty globally but, as the environmentally friendly cut-to-length logging method is becoming more common, it will develop in a safer and more effective direction, minimising any damage to the terrain.
Ponsse’s solutions for working on slopes • Eight-wheeled harvesters and forwarders, combined with balanced bogies, offer tractive force, stability and comfort for the operator. • Engines, brakes and tanks developed for slope conditions. • PONSSE Synchrowinch and other options designed for working on slopes. • Efficiency and productivity of cut-to-length (CTL) forest machines – no need to pull cables or wires manually. • Smooth working – by using the winch, the machine can be moved smoothly, even in demanding locations
PONSSE Synchrowinch is available for PONSSE Cobra, Ergo 8W and Bear harvesters and Buffalo, Bison, Elephant and Elephant King forwarders. The winch is optional equipment installed in forest machines during the installation stage.
The 17 000th PONSSE forest machine has rolled off the production line at the company’s manufacturing facility at Vieremä in Finland. The milestone machine, a PONSSE Elk built in mid-August, will start its career in the sure hands of Finnish Lapland harvesting contractor Kuusmoto Oy.
"It is a special privilege to hand over the 17 000th PONSSE machine to Kuusmoto Oy. I wish to thank Kuusmoto for their trust and fantastic cooperation as we continue our journey together," said Sales, Service and Marketing Director Marko Mattila.
Founded in 2014 and hailing from Posio in Finland, Kuusmoto Oy currently employs 17 people. They operate in seven municipalities in Finnish Lapland. The company has a total of nine PONSSE machines. "We are happy to receive this excellent machine and its plaque. Our current plan is to put the birthday boy to work in Posio or Ranua. It will be a fine addition to our fleet," says Tomi Kuusela, managing director of Kuusmoto Oy.
The PONSSE Elk is an economical but powerful workhorse for thinning-oriented harvesting. Its compact design makes the Elk very agile, while its components, shared with larger machines, make it a powerful and durable tool with a first-rate load carrying capacity. The responsive engine, impressive torque and sturdy loader make working comfortable, especially when the operator can enjoy the most spacious cabin on the market, including ergonomic controls.
Introduced into production in 2005, Ponsse has manufactured a total of 947 PONSSE Elk forwarders and delivered them to over 20 countries.
Ponsse's 17,000th forest machine was built to completion at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the global challenges in component availability and delivery.