Managing PAWS with HOOFS
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The management of plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) requires a gradual change to the existing woodland structure in terms of: increasing light levels, favouring vestigial native broadleaves over plantation species and encouraging natural regeneration of native field, shrub and tree layers. The use of horses for timber extraction can play an important part in the management of a PAWS site.

Horses drawn extraction systems avoid:
damage to regeneration,
damage to standing crop
noise and fuel pollution
compaction, ruts and damage to woodland floor

However, horse drawn systems can provide a light scarification to the woodland floor and thereby promote regeneration of the ASNW seed bank.

The following photo's and captions illustrate various PAWS restoration objectives and the felling and extraction techniques used by Natural Traction to achieve them.

Extracting Scots and Corsican Pine using Grab Crane Forwarder
Kent / Sussex Border

Objective: Reduce conifer cover by sellective felling and favour any existing broadleaves. Convert timber into sawlogs, bars and chip. Primary extraction was with long gears (draft bar and traces) through the stand to rideside where it could then be loaded onto the forwarder and extracted half a mile out of the woods to the stack.

Extracting Scots Pine
National Trust / Surrey

Objective: Selectively fell & extract mature seed trees, avoiding damage to existing oak coppice. Access to felled timber was up a steep slope with minimal room to manoeuvre between trees.

Extracting Corsican Pine
Private Woodland / Kent

Objective: Selectively fell & extract sawlogs in order to open canopy, scarify woodland floor and favour native broadleaved volunteers within the plantation.

Extracting Douglas Fir
National Trust / Sussex (1)

Objective: Extract sawlog quality timber from site without damage to woodland floor. The site has a colony of the nationally rare ivy-leaved bellflower (Wahlenbergia hederacea) directly below the Douglas. Extraction was undertaken during the plant's dormant period and equipment selected to reduce friction impact to site.

Technique: Extracting smaller diameter logs with timber arch.

Technique: 'Par buckling' (barrel rolling) larger diameter logs (70cm+) onto forwarder.

Technique: Extracting 16' sawlog to the stack on single horse forwarder

Extracting Larch Thinnings
Woodland Trust / Chilterns (1)

Compartment 1

Objectives: Long term, to restore the site to open wood pasture, with an emphasis on natural regeneration and maintaining and enhancing the existing ASNW species. Line thin & extract larch, favouring any inter-planted or neighbouring broadleaves.

Technique: With an extraction distance of ¼ mile and the significant quantity of timber, forwarders were the appropriate equipment type. A grapple loader forwarder with a pair of horses and a single horse forwarder were used. The grapple loader was used to load both forwarders. Horse drawn forwarders only require a minimum distance of 6' between trees, thereby reducing the overall amount of crop that has to be felled to facilitate extraction. Also, horses, unlike machines, are able to 'step sideways'. This increased manoeuvrability avoids 'turning' damage (a common problem with large machines) and allows the forwarder to 'weave' between the standing crop. The overall versatility of the horse meant that as we felled the larch we could retain more broadleaved species.

Technique: Grapple crane forwarder loading single horse bogie wagon. Note that the operator is able to position the forwarder to avoid damage to retained broadleaves when loading.

Technique: Once loaded, both forwarders are driven through the woods to the stacking area.

Outcome: Softwood timber felled and extracted, hardwoods retained and light levels enhanced to 'dappled' shade.

Extracting Corsican Pine
Woodland Trust / Chilterns (2)

Compartment 2

Objectives: Long term, to restore the site to open wood pasture, with an emphasis on natural regeneration and maintaining and enhancing the existing ASNW species. Fell & extract: Halo thin around existing broadleaves within Corsican stand and selectively fell Corsican along the margins of compartment in order to gradually reduce compartment size and encourage existent broadleaves to seed into open areas. Due to the incidence of bracken on site, it was important to fell accordingly, so that the light levels maintained favoured regeneration but deterred further colonisation of invasive species such as bracken.

Technique: To reduce conifer canopy, enhance and maintain broadleaves and minimise bracken colonisation.
Technique: All lop and top is windrowed and the timber presented ready for extraction by timber arch and 'long gears'. To the left of photo the broadleaved regeneration can be seen and the removal of the pine provides space for existing trees to seed into.

Technique: Where access to timber is restricted the traditional 'long gears' system can be used to good effect. The timber is skidded out and this also provides a light scarification.Technique: Timber extracted to stack ready for removal by forwarder.

Technique: Due to the selective felling required in this Corsican stand and the density of standing crop there was no room to operate a forwarder within the stand. As such, smaller more manoeuvrable equipment types were used as the primary extraction system. Below, timber arches are being used to extract the timber out of the stand to an area where it can then be loaded onto forwarders.

Technique: The extracted timber is then loaded onto the forwarders for removal to the stack.

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