Essential Heavy Equipment for Forestry

Essential heavy equipment for forestry

A dynamic and streamlined work environment is vital to the forestry industry. Each step in the harvesting process must be done efficiently with cutting-edge equipment that maximizes output. Forestry operations are supported by heavy equipment used to complete all necessary tasks.

As a result, forestry workers depend on specialized machines to perform a large variety of tasks in a shorter period, from felling trees to extracting timber to loading and transporting them. Additional machinery is required to create and maintain service roads during the logging process, allowing loggers and equipment access to the logging site.

Several considerations must be taken into account when choosing equipment for forestry, as there are so many different machines providing unique services. Having a comprehensive list of the best gear for a forestry operation can be helpful. These are some of the most popular types of heavy forestry equipment and which applications they’re designed for:

1. Dozers

To begin processing trees, logging crews must build access roads long before arriving at a woodlot. A dozer is perfect when this task needs to be accomplished. These machines can cut through a forest with ease.

When forest fires occur, dozers are commonly used to build fire breaks. Often, fire breaks are long lines cut into the forest to disrupt a wildfire’s path to not burn in that direction.

A dozer has tracks instead of tires, so it can work on steeper grades because they have more traction.

2. Excavators

In some ways, excavators are versatile machines with large arms fitted with several attachments to perform various tasks. In the most common instances, a bucket attachment that can move heavy objects is installed to allow the excavator to dig holes and trenches, as well as move heavy objects such as trees, boulders, and other equipment.

Forestry contractors frequently use excavators to scoop out tree stumps after cutting down trees. By attaching a bucket to an excavator, the excavator can do precise manoeuvres, perfect for removing stumps.

It is generally the case that excavators are equipped with a blade that can be lowered and used to push the earth. In addition, the edge of the excavator allows for levelling the soil and creating pathways that are debris free.

3. Forest Machines

A forest machine has been designed specially to meet the needs of the tree-processing business. Forest machines are much like excavators in that they are designed and operated the same way. They can have a few different attachments that can be used to perform common tasks necessary while harvesting trees.

A felling head, harvesting head or grapple is one of the attachments that can attach to these machines:

Felling heads

Forestry equipment’s felling heads are designed to grip trees and cut them low. To stack the tree to the side, the forest machine can properly reorient it after being sawn.

Harvest heads

Harvest heads are specialized in removing the branches and stems from fallen trees. During this process, the tree is fed through an attachment with feed rollers and delimbing knives, removing any branches that get in its way.


A grapple is an attachment specifically designed for grabbing bunches of delimbed trees. A curved design can cradle many trees simultaneously, making them superior to generic excavator buckets and thumbs.

4. Motor graders

Essentially, the grader is a large piece of heavy equipment used to turn the ground into a smooth and flat surface. As a grader, equipped with a large blade for breaking down large boulders of rock and debris, the machine works along the road surface as it fills small holes with the debris it breaks down. The road’s surface becomes flatter, smoother, free of potholes and uneven slopes, and free from other debris.

The use of motor graders is common for getting the surface back to its smoothness and ensuring the stable longevity of established forest service roads. Especially in areas where logging trucks and other traffic pass, the road begins to develop odd potholes, cracks, and other obstacles, giving the street a washboard surface and making it almost impossible to drive.

Motor graders might be needed to maintain a forest road multiple times a month, depending on how often logging trucks use it.

5. Skidders

A skidder is a piece of equipment that is very useful for transporting large trees from one place to another to be loaded onto a logging truck. Raw timber is stacked up in a pile after the machinery cuts down and trims trees, then it is transported by trucks and to a lumber processing facility or sawmill.

A skidder has an attachment called a heavy-duty grapple designed to grab many trees at one end of the machine and pull them to the next destination point, typically an area more appropriate for loading a logging truck.

The skidder raises the trees off the ground by grabbing them from one side. As the trees are transported, both ends skid along the ground. This is why it’s named “skidder.” A skidder could prove beneficial if your forestry operation involves moving trees from the processing area to a truck.

6. Winch-assists

It’s not uncommon for harvesting processes to be operating on hilly or uneven terrain. At times, harvesting equipment must be used on hills and mountains with steep inclines. This is where a winch-assist system comes into play. Some of the above-listed forestry machines are used with a winch-assist to allow safe operations on steep slopes.

Winch-assists employ the use of a winch and a rope or cable to allow for greater traction to be gained by forestry machines. These devices are also known as traction-assist systems. They can be used with a variety of machines, such as skidders, harvesters and forwarders, to increase productivity and reduce effort and safety risks.

The importance of understanding all the machines’ functions cannot be overstated. Invest in automatic and high-performance machines to increase your productivity. Perform all the tasks with the machines listed above in less time and effort.

Learn more about forestry equipment for sale, or skip the search and research yourself. Please call Great West Equipment at 1-888-492-4365 or contact us with any questions.

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