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Table of Contents >>  Timber Harvesting: Additional Reading << 3.1 Timber Harvesting Systems >> 3.2 Logging Aesthetics



Choosing the most appropriate timber harvesting system can meet management objectives and minimize environmental impact.

A timber harvesting system is one of several combinations of equipment used for felling and extracting timber. Every system requires (1) a mechanism for felling trees and (2) a mechanism for removing felled trees or portions of felled trees to a roadside log landing for transportation to a mill. Matching the equipment to the site, implementing proper harvest layout, and hiring a skilled operator all contribute to successful logging. A licensed forester and a certified logger can help choose the right system. Landowners choosing to harvest timber on their own must decide if they have the time, skill, equipment, and knowledge to do so or if they wish to contract the services.


Select a timber harvesting system appropriate to the site and landowner objectives.


Commonly Used Timber Harvesting Systems

The following descriptions represent commonly used systems (but don't represent every possible combination).

Conventional Logging

Mechanized Logging

Cut-to-Length System

Other Skidding Systems

Horses, oxen and mules can be used to skid trees, though logging with animals is slow and not common. Operators need training and care to ensure the safety of the animals as well as the logger. Draft animal loggers have the option of drawing stems and loads on the ground or raising them with an arch, sled or forwarder. Stems or logs are often bunched on the ground by a single animal and then forwarded by a team on an arch, sled or forwarder to minimize ground disturbance and residual stand damage. Draft animal logging creates narrow skid trails and may be a feasible system for removing small volumes of high-value trees from visually sensitive areas.

Farm tractors equipped with specifically designed winches may be used to skid smaller trees. Operators must not exceed the limitations of the machine.

Other machines used to skid logs included all-terrain vehicles (ATV), bulldozers and trucks. Each machine has its benefits and limitations. Care is needed with any non-traditional logging machine to ensure the safety of the operators as well as those working in the vicinity.



1.1 First Steps in Forest Management; 1.5 Staying Safe Working in the Woods; 2.3 Regeneration Methods; 3.2 Logging Aesthetics; 3.3 Aesthetics of Skid Trails, Truck Roads and Landings; 3.4 Harvesting in High-Use Recreation Areas; 3.5 Soil Productivity; 4.1 Water Quality; 4.2 Wetlands; 4.3 Forest Management in Riparian Areas; 4.4 Stream Crossings and Habitat; 5.4 Logging Damage; 6.3 Dead and Down Woody Debris; 7.7 Steep Slopes and other chapters in the Sensitive Areas section; Timber Products.


Bennett, K. P. 2010. Directory of Licensed Foresters Providing Service to Forest Landowners in New Hampshire. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham, N.H. http://extension.unh.edu/fwt/dir/index.cfm Accessed on August 2, 2010.

N.H. Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands. 2004. Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations in New Hampshire. State of New Hampshire. http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000247_Rep266.pdf Accessed March 13, 2010.

N.H. Timberland Owners Association. Certified Loggers List. New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Council's Professional Logger Program. http://www.nhtoa.org/ Accessed March 5, 2010.

UNH Cooperative Extension. 2001. Safe Timber Harvesting. http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource001062_Rep1293.pdf Accessed on January 26, 2010.

Smith, S. (ed). 2005. Best Management Practices for Forestry: Protecting New Hampshire’s Water Quality. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham N.H. http://extension.unh.edu/resources/representation/Resource000248_Rep267.pdf Accessed February 8, 2010.

Smith, S. 2009. Guide to New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Laws. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham, N.H. 37 p.

Virginia Tech Forestry. 2008. Timber Harvesting (Logging) Machines and Systems. http://www.cnr.vt.edu/harvestingsystems/index.htm Accessed March 11, 2010.

Timber Harvesting: Additional Reading << 3.1 Timber Harvesting Systems >> 3.2 Logging Aesthetics

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