Chapter 7 Transport operations

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What they are
Guiding principles
Potential consequences of improper transport operations
Recommended practices

What they are

The most common form of log transport from forest to processing facility is by road, using logging trucks. Water and rail systems are other forms of log transport that are used in some parts of the world. Often where water or rail systems are employed, trucks are used to transport logs from the landing to the point where they will be transferred to the water or rail system.

Guiding principles

Environmentally, the transport of logs from the landing to the processing facility or other final destination is a relatively low-impact operation. Most of the direct damage is caused by the transport infrastructure (usually roads), rather than by transport operations. Nevertheless, certain operating practices can be damaging and a threat to public safety. They can also increase costs and reduce the value of the logs delivered to the final destination. Transport costs often represent one half or more of the total timber harvesting cost.


Log-transport operations should:
- ensure the safety of transport workers and the public;
- minimize the cost of transporting logs to the final destination;
- prevent damage to transport infrastructure such as roads and bridges;
- minimize air pollution and prevent spillage of fuel and lubricants;
- deliver all logs to the final destination without significant loss of volume or deterioration in quality.

Potential consequences of improper transport operations

Some potential consequences of improper transport operations include:
- civil or criminal penalties for actions that endanger the public safety;
- high transport costs;
- rapid depreciation of transport machinery;
- excessive costs for repair or reconstruction of infrastructure;
- sedimentation or pollution of streams or groundwater;
- excessive air pollution;
- loss of log volume or value;
- public opposition to log-transport operations.

Recommended practices

- Roads must be properly maintained at all times, and this is especially important when they are being used for transport operations involving heavy trucks. Under the stress of heavy loads, excessive erosion as well as safety problems will result if roads are inadequately maintained.

- All truck transport should be carried out in a manner that will minimize road damage. This requires tailoring the transport operations to the bearing capacity of the road. For example, on roads and landings without adequate gravel or other protective surfacing, truck transport may need to be halted during heavy rains and not resumed until the roads have had a chance to dry. After the road surface has drained, exposure to the sun for as little as one hour can substantially reduce road damage. Even in regions where heavy rainfall is common, the number of dry days, or dry parts of days, is usually sufficient to permit a reasonably regular schedule of operations to be maintained.

- Earth roads and landings should not be used at all during periods of heavy rainfall. Roads that are to be used during the rainy season should be properly drained and provided with a rock base and a surface of gravel or other durable material.

Small logging truck

Tractor and semi-trailer for use with longer logs

- The weight of truck loads should be determined not only according to the capacity of the truck (as determined by its power rating, suspension system, transmission, axle spacing and braking system), but also according to the capacity of the roads and drainage structures over which the loaded truck will pass. This type of information should also be considered when selecting trucks to be used in a particular area.

- When trucking operations must be carried out on roads with low bearing strength, consider decreasing tyre pressure or installing central tyre-inflation systems on trucks. Such systems can greatly reduce damage to the road structure while simultaneously lessening depreciation of the vehicle itself.

- Long-distance transport of logs often includes travel on public roads or through populated areas. Both safety and the public's image of logging traffic are thus of paramount concern. Only trained and properly licensed drivers should be permitted to drive logging trucks, and traffic regulations must be respected at all times.

- Truck loads must be properly balanced and secured by binders that are of sufficient capacity to prevent logs from falling off the truck if the load should shift in transit.

- Trucks must never be overloaded. Where feasible, trucks should be equipped with load cells so that both the total load and the distribution of weight on the various axles can be checked.

- Any vehicle used for transporting logs should be properly maintained, and its brakes and other parts inspected regularly for mechanical soundness.

- Trucks should be equipped with proper mufflers and exhaust systems to reduce noise and air pollution.

- When trucks are refuelled in the forest, the refuelling area should be located well away from streams and dyked to prevent spilled fuel or other contaminants from entering streams or groundwater.

- Roads where logging trucks are being used should always be posted with warning signs, especially at points where trucks will enter public roads.

- Trucks should be fitted with wide mudflaps to prevent stones or other potentially damaging objects from being thrown up into the path of vehicles following behind them.

- During dry periods, dust-control measures must be implemented on forest roads as needed to ensure the safe transit of all vehicles and the comfort and safety of people living nearby.

- When water transport is used, special care must be taken in constructing and maintaining the area where the logs will be dumped into the water or loaded on to barges. If possible, a sealed surface should be used for the dumping or docking area. If this is not feasible, the area should be surfaced with well-graded gravel and compacted thoroughly before use. Mats or ramps can also be used to reduce damage to the ground surface. Sediment traps or diversion ditches should be used to prevent runoff water from flowing directly into the stream. Bark and other debris should be periodically cleared away and moved to a disposal site from where it cannot enter the stream.

Drainage structures need not be expensive; the only requirement is that they be effective.

Water transport of logs.

- Log rafts should be securely bound in order to prevent the loss of logs and to ensure the safety of other traffic using the waterway. Flags and lights for night travel should be used to identify the front and rear points of the raft clearly in order to avoid collisions. Large rafts should be towed or pushed by boats with sufficient power to control safely the speed and direction of the raft.

- To ensure the maximum utilization of harvested timber, logs should be individually branded and tallied in the forest, and the brands and tally sheets should be checked at the landing as well as at the delivery point.

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