Timber transport is an important part of a forest management program. The need to haul lumber after tree harvesting must be implemented in order to get the wood to its final destination – sawmills or plants that process the wood products.
Long ago, rivers were used to ship timber. The current of the water naturally propelled the wood down the river and a log driver with long poles was employed to push the trees or free them when they jammed. The transferring of cut trees through natural waterways was very risky since the workers would have to walk across the floating timbers to prevent the development of log jams. It can not be denied that water transportation was a cost-effective way of moving wood from the forest to the mills.
Transportation by Roads and Highways
Another method of moving wood was to build permanent roads that could have been used by trucks to haul the filled trees. The specific road construction was determined by forest engineers to meet the long-term goals of forest management. These roads were historically re-made into the roads and highways of today and easily facilitate the shipping of harvested wood from the forest to processing plants.
Another means of transportation was through the logging railway by which steam locomotives or diesel-driven locomotives were used to haul filled timber to sawmill and other processing locations.
Because of the development of today's modern technological advances in building roads, the opportunity to utilize roads and highways in moving harvested lumber has only continued to expand. Other countries, such as Romania and some parts of Russia are still using railways for shipping wood. Water transportation is rarely used because of environmental concerns and too much product loss due to sinking.
Modern Technological Advances
Today, the most common way to rapidly and efficiently ship heavy timber of various sizes is through the use of log trucks. Forestry equipment, such as front-end loaders and cranes, are used to load the wood onto the transportation vehicles. Before the timber is able to be hauled, it is frequently processed and sorted. The timber is filled, bucked and de-limbed before it is loaded onto a truck to be delivered to the mills. Logs are categorized based on their grade and tree species before being hauled to the mills.
Loading and hauling is a hazardous and risky procedure on the part of the workers. This fact encourages operators and contractors to provide personal protective equipment to their employees to maintain a safe working environment and to ensure that the workers' safety is not overlooked.
To maintain safety procedures during the entire operation, general log safety loading procedures must be observed. Timber must be securely fastened to the bed of the transport truck to prevent the risk of it falling off onto the road during travel across public roads and highways. The loaders and drivers must make sure that the loads are safe by checking the top of the loads, looking for any dislodged or protruding timber prior to transportation. All timber should be loaded onto the trucks correctly so that the drivers will not risk being penalized for carrying unsafe loads.
Forestry workers can be very productive if the loading and transportation of the harvested wood is done correctly with a great amount of consideration given to the overall safety of the workers. To strengthen the safety program, each employee must wear protective equipment during the operation. It must be remembered that just because employees are using safety equipment, not all hazards can be completely eliminated. Workers must always be mindful of their own safety when working in this hazardous industry.