The wood we are in at present was chosen for horse thinning because it is on wet ground which machine harvesters would find difficult to travel through and whose weight would churn the forest floor to mud.
This particular wood is also susceptible to wind damage so a purely selective system was chosen.
Good reasons for using horses to extract the timber rather than machines.
Our present logging job is for a group called CCWEP (County Clare Wood Energy Project) www.ccwep.ie which was formed to bring together small forest owners in an area into a cluster.
This initiative makes it easier for these timber producers to harvest and market their crop operating as one unit rather than as individuals. Such a cluster is also more attractive to harvesting contractors.
Before planting commercial forests drains and ditches are cut through the site to enable the free draining of the soil.
These drains are a major consideration when planning a harvesting job. Every extraction path must be planned with every drain and ditch bridged in a proper fashion.
Bridging is a time consuming but important task and must be included in the pricing of a job.
Small drains can be temporarily filled in with cut branches (brash) - which for the duration of the harvesting blocks the water from getting out of the woodland - so equally important is removing these bridges after the job is over to allow the drains do their job and prevent the forest floor flooding.
Larger ditches and firebreaks need to be bridged with green timber. Dug into the banks on either side of the ditch the timber is lashed together with ropes and finally covered in a thick layer of brash so to ensure horse and handler has a good grip for their feet when crossing.
These timber bridges do not cause any interuption to the water flow.