Forwarders

Purpose built or agricultural tractor-trailer units equipped with a loading crane. They come in a range sizes and extract converted products by lifting them entirely clear of the ground. Variations include All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) based units and mini/midi tractor variants

Purpose built forwarders
Availability Widely available 
Costs High capital and transport costs, can achieve low unit costs on large scale operations
Terrain ability
Slopes up to 50%
Potential site impact Ground damage generally less than with skidding or cable crane systems. In the right conditions (soil type, weather conditions, availability of brash mat), large forwarders will require fewer passes to remove produce, reducing ground impact
Potential crop impact Potential damage to standing trees/root systems
Access and transportation Requires low loader transportation
Other operational considerations Particularly suited to extraction distances greater than 500 m. Particularly suited to larger operations where greater load capacity increases efficiency. Generally suitable for a range of products, although it might not always be able to accommodate whole tree or pole length systems depending on bunk. On wet and sensitive soil sites, careful planning and maintenance of extraction routes are critical to avoid site damage
Ergonomics Generally good ergonomics

 

Farm forwarders
Availability Widely available
Costs Mid-range capital cost, versatile; can achieve lower unit cost than purpose built machines on small operations
Terrain ability Slopes up to 30%. Obstacles and rough terrain might cause problems, less so for power drive trailers
Potential site impact Ground damage generally less than with skidding or cablecrane systems. On wet and sensitive soil sites, careful planning and maintenance of extraction routes are critical to avoid site damage
Potential crop impact Potential damage to standing trees/root systems
Access and transportation Easy access
Other operational considerations Suited to extraction distances over 500 m. Can accommodate a range of products, including small whole tree systems with adaptations of equipment and work methods. Not suited to pole systems. Can be used for other agricultural activities
Ergonomics Non purpose built equipment is likely to required additional guarding/protection for forestry work

 

Mini forwarders
Availability Not widespread
Costs Relatively high capital cost, with higher unit costs than large machines on larger operations or longer extraction distances. For smaller operations or shorter extraction distances, can compete with larger purpose built machines
Terrain ability Slopes up to 30% to 50% dependent on machine design. Obstacles and rough terrain might be a problem because of relatively low ground clearance. Good manoeuvrability
Potential site impact Low ground impact
Potential crop impact Low crop impact
Access and transportation Easy access and transportation
Other operational considerations  Best suited to extraction distances shorter than 250m. Low load capacity, most suited to small operations
Ergonomics Some machines are not equipped with adequate protection for forestry work

 

ATC forwarders
Availability Not widespread
Costs Capital costs vary, with generally low cost of attachments. Unit costs are generally high
Terrain ability Slopes up to 25%. Site roughness can cause problems. Good manoeuvrability, but brash and waste on the ground can impede travelling
Potential site impact High traction force and low weight can cause ground damage if not properly used
Potential crop impact Low crop impact
Access and transportation Easy access and transportation
Other operational considerations Best suited to extraction distances shorter than 200m. Low load capacity, most suited to small operations
Ergonomics Some manual handling is required. Some machines are not equipped with FOPS or ROPS protection