Cut-to-length logging

Truck at landing loading cut-to-length logs

Why is cut-to-length logging (CTL) the primary wood harvesting method in Finland and the Nordics? What are the benefits, and why should you be interested?

Brief history of cut-to-length logging

Cut-to-length logging has been the primary logging method in Finland and the Nordics for at least 50 years. The whole-tree method didn’t suit Finnish forestry well, as our trees are small enough for easy bucking in the forest, and skidding inflicted too much damage to standing trees during thinnings. Our smaller roads tend to be too winding and narrow for transporting whole trees, and in landings, there were problems with space. The cost of fuel and preference for smaller machinery also contributed to the shift to CTL.

Today, almost 100% of wood harvesting in Finland is mechanized, with manual felling reserved mostly for enormous trees and felling sites that are too dangerous for harvesters. However, some forest owners still prefer manual logging, though the yearly amount is very low.

What are the benefits of cut-to-length logging?

CTL has many benefits, and the historical reasons for choosing it are still valid.

Better success with thinnings

CTL makes thinnings economically and environmentally feasible. It is the best harvesting method for thinnings because it allows the selection of the right trees to be removed without excessive damage to the standing trees. CTL decreases soil disturbance, and cutting residues can be left in the forest as fertilizer to enrich the soil. In clear cuttings, the cutting residues can be harvested for renewable energy, serving as a preventive measure for forest fires.

No more problems with landings

CTL is advantageous in terms of landings because after bucking and measuring in the forest, forwarding can begin immediately. Trucks can start long-distance transportation as soon as enough logs are in the landing to make a full load. Effective management can even make the smallest landings sufficient.

Better work safety

CTL is statistically a very safe method for wood harvesting, and serious accidents are rare. The machinery is safe for operators, and usually, only two people are on the harvesting site at the same time, one operating the harvester and the other operating the forwarder.

Increased value of wood

In CTL, the bucking into assortments is optimized according to the requirements of the mills or the forest owner. The harvester measures trees and optimizes bucking automatically for the maximum value. This creates less waste and better yields for precious assortments. There can be numerous assortments in use at the same time, making it possible to harvest special assortments with small accumulation.

Efficient supply chain management

CTL makes supply chain management very efficient. Logs are measured in the forest and forwarded into separate piles. Production data is transferred to a forest information system almost in real-time, providing accurate information on volumes and assortments under harvesting and on landings. Planning transportation logistics is simpler when you know what’s in the inventory and what’s going to come. Harvesting operations can be directed to the right site depending on current inventory levels and demand from mills. Transporting distance and handling times can be minimized by transporting the assortments straight to the mill from the landing, and there are even possibilities to plan backhauling routes for trucks to minimize driving unloaded and cut costs.

Why should you be interested?

In conclusion, CTL offers many benefits. Financially, there can be savings in logistical costs and decreasing the waste of valuable wood. Higher revenues can be expected because of optimized bucking and increased value of wood. The mills will benefit from the flow of readily sorted logs. Environmentally, CTL creates less impact on soil and decreased carbon emissions.

At BCon, we specialize in providing services to help you implement cut-to-length logging and other sustainable forestry practices. We can help you optimize your supply chain, improve your forest management practices, and increase your efficiency and productivity. If you’re interested in learning more, read about our services and contact us!