Harvesting

In the early days of the timber industry, trees were felled from native forests using axes and hand-held cross-cut saws.  It was a slow process of hard manual labour. Logs, often of very large dimensions, were dragged by teams of bullocks or horses, and rolled onto bush-trains using innovative equipment and wire ropes.

With the introduction of chainsaws in the 1960s, considerable harvesting time was saved (FEF 2008). Further progress in mechanisation saw early model tractors and tracked bulldozers used. Manpower requirements were high and accidents not uncommon.

These days harvesting is done by small teams of contractors, using modern tracked harvesting machines and rubber tyred forwarders (large articulated tractors), worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Very large trees are far fewer and still fallen manually using chainsaws, but smaller trees are more common and often mechanically felled by machines which grab them, cut them off, and lay them down.

In the 1930s, road transport started to become important for the sawmilling industry.  Roads enabled fast and easy access for supervision and fire-fighting, and provided ready extraction routes for forest products. They also had a dramatic impact on the social framework of sawmilling communities.  With ready road access to forests, the families of loggers and millers no longer needed to live in remote locations in the forest as they had traditionally done, but could live in townships close to hospitals, schools and other amenities.

Sawmilling

Sawmills were traditionally located within the forests, and the logs often had to be transported over long distances and difficult terrain by convict  o or by bullocks.  It wasn’t long though before rivers and other waterways were being used to carry forest products.  Timber was also transported from the forest to the sawmill along specially constructed tramlines, first by steam-powered log haulers then by steam-powered locomotives, and finally diesel and petrol-powered locomotives (FEF 2008). These advances in technology improved the efficiency of log transport.

The first Australian sawmills consisted of little more than a power source (either a waterwheel or a steam engine) and a single saw.  By the twentieth century, there had been advances in saw technology, with traditional vertical saws being replaced with circular saws and bandsaws, creating greater efficiencies and savings (FEF 2008).

Freshly milled timber needs to be dried to prevent it shrinking and warping. Timber was traditionally laid out in racks around the mills to air-dry until by the 1930s some larger sawmills had built drying kilns into which large volumes of timber could be stacked and quickly dried (FEF 2008). Today, timber is still dried in kilns.

Getting timber to markets

In 1854, the first steam railway in Australia was opened in Melbourne. This revolutionised timber transportation and enabled the fledgling sawmilling industry to move inland away from the coast. At the same time, the Australian colonies were expanding rapidly, providing new markets for timber products.

Sawmills could shift further from the coast, and those along connected roadways could move timber out using bullocks or draughthorses. Animals were eventually replaced with steam-powered engines, and then by trucks (FEF 2008). Now large trucks, often B-Doubles transport logs, sawn timber and wood chip from forest to mill to port/retailer.

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Changing technology

Compare forestry technology over time.

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Evolution of technology and practices

Read about how forest practices and technologies have changed over time.

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Forest Photos

Different photos of forestry and the industry.

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Forestry Matters!

Forestry matters! is a free, comprehensive education resource that provides teachers with relevant,  up-to-date information about South Australia’s forests.

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History of forests in South Australia

This factsheet talks about the history of forests, from Aborginal history through to today.

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History of Tasmania's forest services Part A

Find out about Tasmania's forest service during early settlement, federation and WW1.

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History of Tasmania's forest services Part B

Find out about Tasmania's forest service post WW2.

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History of Tasmania's forest services Part C

Find out about Tasmania's forest modern day service

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Warra Tall Eucalypt Scientific Supersite

This resource explores the long term Econlogical Resaerch site Warra which trails various systems such as alternative silvicultural systems, log emergence traps, water studies and wildfire reference sites.

Wood Products from Laminated Veneer

This resource discusses new timber products including laminated veneer lumber.

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Forestry Matters!

Forestry matters! is a free, comprehensive education resource that provides teachers with relevant,  up-to-date information about South Australia’s forests.

To download this file

Forests then, now and tomorrow.

Investigate the past and ponder the future with this activity sheet.

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Going Bush - Forest’s role in the carbon equation - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Forest's role in the carbon equation'. Students will learn about equipment used in the field to measure carbon fluxes, and how actively growing forests store carbon and assist in climate change mitigation. They will learn how fires cause net losses of carbon to the atmosphere, and therefore the importance of active management for preventing catostrophic fires.

To download this file

Going Bush - Innovative ways of keeping the home fires burning - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Innovative ways of keeping the home fires burning'. Students learn how the forest industry can provide a renewable and low emision source of energy from wood waste in the form of engineered wood pellets for home heating.

To download this file

Going Bush - Residue from the one tree goes to make fine copy paper - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Residue from the one tree goes to make fine copy paper'. This video highlights the efficiency of modern forestry whereby all parts of the harvested tree are used in various applications. Low grade wood waste is used to make high value fine copy paper seen everyday in school printers and offices. Wood residues can also be used for renewable energy production.

To download this file

Going Bush - South Australia's pine tree experts - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video examining the development of pine tree plantations in South Australia. Planations have helped overcome a lack of supply from native forests particularly in markets that use softwoods, including small diameter sawlogs, pulp and veneer. Students get to see 'fella buncher' harvesting machines in action, and use of high technology techniques for locating, measuring and grading wood, such as GPS and LiDAR.

To download this file

Going Bush - Tracing the power poles back to North East Tasmania's forests - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with samples answers to accompany the 'Going Bush' video looking at the origin of wooden power poles in North East Tasmanian forests. Selection features of native forest trees are examined, as well as the process of seasoning the preserving power poles.

To download this file

Going Bush - Value adding - Worksheet & answers

Worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Value adding'. When trees are harvested, various parts of the tree are graded for different end uses and various value adding processing then follows. Further, technological advances have helped mechanise harvesting and processing operations to increase efficiency in the value adding chain. On the other hand, tree replanting is conducted after harvest to ensure forests regenerate for future generations.

To download this file

Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction

Students will learn about the different types of manufactured wood products and about innovative techniques to produce manufactured wood products. After watching the video lesson they will be able to answer questions on the lesson titled “Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction Q&A"

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Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction - Q&A

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Make the links

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Planet Ark - Schools Tree day

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See how decisions affect the forest over 100 years.

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Use Geographical Information Systems sustainable forestry

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Use of Geographical Information Systems in sustainable forestry - Q&A's

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Wild Forest Adventure Activity Book

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Wild Forest Adventure online game

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Forestry Matters! website

Forestry matters! is a free, comprehensive education resource that provides teachers with relevant,  up-to-date information about South Australia’s forests.

Going Bush - Forest's role in the carbon equation

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To watch this video

Planet Ark - Schools Tree day

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Trees from thin air!

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Use Geographical Information Systems sustainable forestry

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Forest management goes high tech

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Going Bush - A Northern NSW timber family answering the industry’s challenges

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Going Bush - A timber product for the future from an antique Newcastle factory

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Going Bush- Drones

Nick and Andy have come to check out how Forestry Tasmania is testing remote controlled drones to map the forest and it's content.

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Going Bush - Forest's role in the carbon equation

The boys talk to a trio of carbon specialists about the part forests and its products can play in the fight against global warming. They see how it’s measured in Victoria’s Wombat Forest and hear how storage of carbon in forests should be compared to a dam, with inputs from growing trees and regular withdrawals especially for timber to replace fossil-fuel intensive materials, rather than simply locked away.

To watch this video

Going Bush - Forest’s role in the carbon equation - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Forest's role in the carbon equation'. Students will learn about equipment used in the field to measure carbon fluxes, and how actively growing forests store carbon and assist in climate change mitigation. They will learn how fires cause net losses of carbon to the atmosphere, and therefore the importance of active management for preventing catostrophic fires.

To download this file

Going Bush - Innovative ways of keeping the home fires burning

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To watch this video

Going Bush - Innovative ways of keeping the home fires burning - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Innovative ways of keeping the home fires burning'. Students learn how the forest industry can provide a renewable and low emision source of energy from wood waste in the form of engineered wood pellets for home heating.

To download this file

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Going Bush - Neville Smith

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Going Bush - New Forest Technology Part 1

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Going Bush - New Forest Technology Part 2

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Going Bush - Planning for innovation in Tasmanian forest products

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To watch this video

Going Bush - Residue from the one tree goes to make fine copy paper - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Residue from the one tree goes to make fine copy paper'. This video highlights the efficiency of modern forestry whereby all parts of the harvested tree are used in various applications. Low grade wood waste is used to make high value fine copy paper seen everyday in school printers and offices. Wood residues can also be used for renewable energy production.

To download this file

Going Bush - South Australia’s pine tree experts

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To watch this video

Going Bush - South Australia's pine tree experts - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video examining the development of pine tree plantations in South Australia. Planations have helped overcome a lack of supply from native forests particularly in markets that use softwoods, including small diameter sawlogs, pulp and veneer. Students get to see 'fella buncher' harvesting machines in action, and use of high technology techniques for locating, measuring and grading wood, such as GPS and LiDAR.

To download this file

Going Bush - The journey to a safer workplace in Tassie forests

We visit a Tasmanian harvesting operation to see the massive improvements in bush safety. Forestry Tasmania some time ago now set about changing the safety culture both for its own workforce and contractors with dramatic results, which are demonstrated at an awards day where top performers are rewarded.

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Going Bush - Tracing the power poles back to North East Tasmania’s forests

You see them along the roadside throughout the land and they’re an easy fallback for long road trip games of I spy with my little eye … PP? Power poles of course. We go bush to find where the tallest and straightest trees grow and how they’re handled with kid gloves to provide the poles to carry electricity cables.

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Going Bush - Tracing the power poles back to North East Tasmania's forests - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with samples answers to accompany the 'Going Bush' video looking at the origin of wooden power poles in North East Tasmanian forests. Selection features of native forest trees are examined, as well as the process of seasoning the preserving power poles.

To download this file

Going Bush - Value adding

This series of 'Going Bush' presents valuable information on value adding to our native forest resource from harvesting, through processing the various grades of saw logs and defect wood, to end uses in high value flooring and furniture, and low value pulp wood and waste for paper and electricity production.

It highlights the valuable contribution the native forest industry makes to supplying hardwood solid timbers in Australia, and the importance of sustaining this industry into the future.

To watch this video

Going Bush - Value adding - Worksheet & answers

Worksheet with sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video 'Value adding'. When trees are harvested, various parts of the tree are graded for different end uses and various value adding processing then follows. Further, technological advances have helped mechanise harvesting and processing operations to increase efficiency in the value adding chain. On the other hand, tree replanting is conducted after harvest to ensure forests regenerate for future generations.

To download this file

Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction

Students will learn about the different types of manufactured wood products and about innovative techniques to produce manufactured wood products. After watching the video lesson they will be able to answer questions on the lesson titled “Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction Q&A"

To watch this video

Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction - Q&A

Students will learn about the different types of manufactured wood products and about innovative techniques to produce manufactured wood products. After watching the video lesson titled “Innovation in Manufactured Wood Products and Construction" they will be able to answer these questions.

To download this file

Use Geographical Information Systems sustainable forestry

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To watch this video

Use of Geographical Information Systems in sustainable forestry - Q&A's

Students will learn about Geographical Information Systems and how they can be used in forestry. They will answer these questions after watching the video lesson titled “Use of Geographical Information Systems in sustainable forestry”

To download this file

Wild Forest Adventure online game

The Wild Forest Adventure section has been especially designed for students, to provide interesting and relevant information about the forest environment, in a stimulating and fun way.

back to top

Forest management in Tasmania - The truth

Report highlighting the management of Tasmanian forests for multiple values, supported by a commitment to sustainable charter and certification process for harvested timber.

To download this file
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