Clearing alien invasive trees from Cape mountains

The Husqvarna crew that assisted the Helihack team to clear alien trees from the Langeberg mountains wilderness area, in celebration of Earth Day on 22 April: (L to R) Charles Henderson, Pieter Smuts, Johan Kruger, Larry Morris, Divan Vermaak and Wynand Lombaard.

A collaborative initiative between Cape Nature, Helihack, Husqvarna, local landowners and other interested parties, was launched in mid-April to clear invasive pine trees from the Langeberg mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Western Cape’s Bosmansbos wilderness area.

The project, which coincided with Earth Day on 22nd April, aimed to clear alien vegetation which has invaded this remote wilderness area and poses a serious threat to its biodiversity.

“Husqvarna supports many conservation efforts in South Africa and we first became involved with Helihack two years ago,” commented Divan Vermaak, Husqvarna’s Veld Management Specialist. “This was in response to their innovative approach towards the sustainable management of water resources through the elimination of invasive pine trees in the province’s remote mountain catchment areas. As champions of sustainable land (veld) management, we understand that no single organisation can achieve this goal alone. Husqvarna, therefore, put its weight behind this latest Helihack project by sending in a team and equipment to assist.”

Vermaak explains that because water management falls within the veld management spectrum of their business, they have been very fortunate to participate in a couple of previous Helihack projects, supplying PPE and equipment to make the mountaineers’ jobs easier.

“During a Helihack operation, experienced volunteers are suspended from helicopters and dropped with their chainsaws onto remote mountain tops where they clear invasive pines and other alien plant species,” he explains.

Preparing to be lowered onto a mountain top to clear alien vegetation.

Over the two or three days of the undertaking, the group cut down some 5 000 trees.

Teams of volunteers were airlifted to specific locations on the Langeberg mountain range, braving rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions. Relying on each other's expertise and support they were able to successfully clear the invasive pines and other vegetation threatening the delicate ecosystem and help to restore this World Heritage Site to its natural state.

Working in this remote environment, the battery-powered Husqvarna chainsaws were pushed to the limit by the Helihack team.

“The Helihack team has been testing our battery-operated chainsaws to see how they handle this type of work, and the feedback has been great,” says Vermaak. “As a result, Husqvarna sponsored a battery-operated chainsaw as well as training on the safe use of this equipment.”

Michael Raimondo said that the battery-operated chainsaws have proved to be a game changer for the Heliack team as they are light, reliable and easy to operate.

“We have to work very quickly and the battery-operated chainsaws are light and reliable which saves time and energy,” said Michael. “Made for purpose, you can flip off one battery and put on another, even while dangling from a rope with your chainsaw next to you. With just two batteries, you can operate the chainsaw all day.”

Raimondo added that when working in wilderness areas, quiet is better than noisy and the battery-operated chainsaw really delivered in this regard. The battery-operated chainsaws were backed up by the Husqvarna petrol-powered chainsaws which were used to clear the larger trees.

“Through our successful partnership with Helihack in collaboration with all the other stakeholders involved, we have demonstrated the incredible impact and success that can be achieved when people work together towards a common vision,” concluded Vermaak.

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Husqvarna's new battery power tools for arborists

Husqvarna is set to give the forestry, garden and park management industry an exciting new choice in chainsaws with the release of two battery-powered options – the Husqvarna T540i XP® top-handle and Husqvarna 540i XP® rear-handle.

Used with the new Husqvarna BLi200X (T540i XP®) or Husqvarna BLi300 (540i XP®) batteries, the new chainsaws are a match for professional class petrol chainsaws, making them ideal for tree removals and smaller felling tasks.

With a completely redesigned and optimised system, they offer 30% more power compared to previous Husqvarna battery chainsaws, equalling the power of 40cc petrol chainsaws but with reduced emissions and vibrations.

The new top-handle T540i XP® offers superior cutting power for drop cuts of thick trunks and branches while being fast and nimble enough to take on smaller tasks. The 540i XP® rear-handle version has the same power and is a perfect all-round saw for any kind of groundwork.

The T540i XP® weighs 2.5 kg, without battery, chain oil and cutting equipment vs 2.9 kg for the 540i XP®.

Managing director of Husqvarna South Africa, Pieter Smuts, said: "We're confident these two chainsaws will set a new standard in South Africa and give arbour professionals the experience they've been waiting for in battery-powered chainsaws. With more power, greater manoeuvrability, superior ergonomics and a user-friendly interface you can get more done in a day with less effort."

Given that an arborist can work anywhere from ground level to 20 meters up and under all conditions, the saws are designed for versatility and easy handling. A newly-developed intuitive user interface allows for quick control, and balanced saw bodies provide the maneuverability needed for difficult cuts.

Benefits of battery
The T540i XP® and 540i XP® chainsaws start and stop at the press of a button and battery status is easily visible. A battery-powered chainsaw offers several benefits, including the absence of direct emissions, reduced noise and vibrations, reducing strain on the body. Depending on the charger, they can be recharged to 80% in around 30 minutes and to full power in under one hour.

To handle the rigorous demands of arborists, only premium light-weight materials and durable components were used in the manufacture of these saws. For example, the 540i XP features a magnesium crank case, clutch cover and bar mount as well as an aluminum front handle. Both chainsaws are weather resistant (according to IPX4 classification).

Both saws use Husqvarna's new SP21G X-cut chain, a semi-chisel 0.325" mini pixel chain with a 1.1mm gauge and low kick guard. The chain has been tailored specifically for the new battery chainsaws to cut quickly, smoothly and more efficiently. The chain produces less vibrations, has low kickback and is particularly good for a fast and easy bore cut.

"We're very excited to introduce these premium and durable battery-powered chainsaws to our market," said Pieter. “They're so easy to handle, easy to start and offer superior cutting power for even the most demanding tasks. As always our countrywide network of Husqvarna dealers is on hand to provide advice, assistance and spare parts as needed."

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