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PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of 'No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw',” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week.

“These are the first products from the Steepland Harvesting Programme to be put into commercial use, which is an outstanding accomplishment,” says Mr Guy.

“Operating on steep slopes is possible through the ClimbMAX harvester - an excavator-based system that uses a computer controlled hydraulic winch system to help with traction and mobility, and allows the machine to operate safely on steep slopes.

“Four ClimbMAX harvesters are now operating in Nelson, Hawke’s Bay and British Columbia in areas considered dangerous for conventional tree felling and extraction practices. A fifth machine is currently under construction.”

The PGP programme has also refined and improved the Alpine Grapple - a hydraulic-controlled hauler grapple designed to increase grapple use on steep land - to suit local conditions. A new camera system called CutoverCam also uses wireless camera technology to provide clear high resolution video footage of forestry operations on steep slopes.

“This is a big step forward as it removes the need for ground crews to work on steep, hazardous areas. It also means that ground crews are in full view of the hauler operator who no longer needs to rely on radio messages and sound signals from the ground crews,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“An estimated 40 percent of forestry related accidents occur when forestry crew members are either tree felling or attaching and detaching the heavy chains or cables used to haul trees from the forest.

“The technology enabled through the PGP — and now available commercially — has the potential to reduce the number of work place safety incidents, while also greatly improving harvesting productivity.”

“This is another example of the success of the PGP programme. We now have 17 projects confirmed with $700 million in funding committed from both industry and Government. The potential benefit to the wider economy from these projects is expected to be around $7 billion per year from 2025,” says Mr Guy.


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