Five ways to stop value leaks in forest harvest

Most forest owners entrust harvest to a third party, so the value decisions for their trees, are then made by people who they will likely never meet.

It is common for forest owners to pay their providers on a production basis, per harvested ton or volume unit, while expecting most value from their forest.

Achieving most value from forest harvest (value focused) requires additional attention beyond that which a production ethic (tons focused) will drive on its own.  Optimal harvest will require both.

Addressing this paradox is the key to achieving maximum value from a forest at harvest.  It requires a mix of planning, economics, mathematics, logistics, culture and discipline.

Leaks of value can occur at many points in forest harvest.  The resulting lost forest value recovery, and the suboptimal returns that follow, just don’t make sense, after waiting so long for trees to grow.  But the signs are there to be seen in most harvest operations.  The angle cut log, the unpulled stem left on the hill, a best log in the mediocre log pile, the high stump, are the operational nuances, all leading to lost value.

Fortunately you can learn what it takes to improve your fortunes, and act to ensure all possible cash from harvest goes into your bank.  Some simple steps to improvement are:DGTANGOIOCS

  1. Have a Forest Value Recovery Plan.  Having no FVR plan is a sure way to throw away a few percent from your potential bottom line.  Decide precisely how you want your harvest to proceed in financial and forest value recovery terms, and put this in writing.  Create a sound plan before you start harvest, then communicate it, and work it.
  2. Build Forest Value Recovery Knowledge.  For a forest owner FVR knowledge is like money in the bank, but you can use it more than once.   If you don’t know enough to be sure about the process, learn more and bring the knowledge and required culture into your organisation and relationships.  And measure your gains.
  3. Grow a professional culture.   Poor culture is a forest value killer.  You will be wise to measure, analyse and improve your company and crew culture.  Lift the care factor in your operations and recognise professionalism as if it were golden.  It is.  You can make your operations safer, more productive and more profitable, just by turning up this dial.
  4. Communicate well about forest value recovery.  Ensure that the forest value recovery message comes from the top, to the bottom, and back up again.  Your providers, log makers, contractors, managers and executives all need to be engaged with your plan.  Many initiatives for improvement can come from the people on the forest floor, but only if the whole chain of command is aligned about value recovery and can capitalise on these signals.
  5. See Forest Value Recovery as part of a productive harvest operation.  If I had a dollar for every time I have heard that value recovery efforts will thwart production, I would already drive a gold hummer.  But it just ain’t so.  If you hear this in your operations, consider it a serious red flag for poor culture.  Improving forest value recovery culture, education and planning will often enhance both productivity and value recovery.

Learning to recover all possible value from your forest, may seem a complex or daunting task.  But most of the necessary solutions are simple and common sense once you build your own understanding, and lift the value recovery capability in your organisation.

Plan and educate for better forest value recovery, build a better culture in your business, and you will improve your forest fortunes.  Guaranteed.

James Powrie B.For.Sc (Hons)

James Powrie is a Freelance Forester and has worked in all aspects of forestry since starting with the NZ Forest Service in 1984.  He offers Education, Planning Assistance and Coaching for Forest Owners, Directors, Investors and others wanting to Maximise Forest Value Recovery at Harvest. He is also available for conference sessions and workshops by arrangement.    |   +64 272 757757    |

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