The harvester forestry is a type of heavy vehicle employed in cut-to-length logging operations for felling, delimbing and bucking trees. A harvester is typically employed together with a forwarder that hauls the logs to a roadside landing.
Harvesters are employed effectively in level to moderately steep terrain for clearcutting areas of forest. For very steep hills or for removing individual trees, humans working with chain saws are still preferred in some countries. In northern Europe small and manoeuvrable harvesters are used for thinning operations, manual felling is typically only used in extreme conditions, where tree size exceeds the capacity of the harvester head or by small woodlot owners.
The principle aimed for in mechanised logging is “no feet on the forest floor”, and the harvester and forwarder allow this to be achieved. Keeping humans inside the driving cab of the machine provides a safer and more comfortable working environment for industrial scale logging.
Harvesters are built on a robust all terrain vehicle, either wheeled or tracked. The vehicle may be articulated to provide tight turning capability around obstacles. A diesel engine provides power for both the vehicle and the harvesting mechanism through hydraulic drive. An extensible, articulated boom, similar to that on an excavator, reaches out from the vehicle to carry the harvester head. Some harvesters are adaptations of excavators with a new harvester head, while others are purpose-built vehicles.
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