A Multi-Use Model
Haliburton Forest, a popular recreation site, also hosts extensive forestry research and
education programs - and a unique 'one stem at a time' selective logging program.
By Robert Forrest
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.
This forest is an important research and development site,
addressing many of the challenges facing forestry in Canada today. Among the issues it
tackles are sustainable forest management, minimal impact harvesting and managing a forest
for both industry and recreational uses.
The Haliburton Forest comprises 50,000 acres of mixed forest
located in central Ontario, adjacent to Algonguin Park, about four hours north of Toronto.
It was originally owned by an English land and immigration company, who in the 1860s
wanted to sell 100-acre plots to European farmers. When the ground conditions proved
unsuitable for farming, large chunks of the land were sold for logging.
A mill was constructed at the site to harvest and manufacture
lumber from an excellent wood resource that consisted primarily of white pine, hemlock,
sugar maple and yellow birch.
By the late 1950s, most of the timber was exhausted and the land
was once again put up for sale. After being advertised for four years in North America, it
was offered in Europe. In 1962, it was purchased by the Schliefenbaum family of Germany.
The Schliefenbaum family has forged a unique relationship with
Tembec in nearby Huntsville. Selective-cut logging supplies material for Tembec's flooring
plant. The trees targeted for logging are deformed or damaged; the revenue from sales to
the mill supports their removal. It has been a positive arrangement for both sides.
Logging occurs in close proximity to recreational users. The
property contains 50 lakes and 300 campsites. Old-growth red spruce stands help make
Haliburton a popular, pristine vacation site. It is used for hiking, fishing, hunting,
camping, snowmobiling, mountain biking and outdoor education programs (a wolf interpretive
centre houses three wild timber wolves in a natural environment). The forest has a healthy
mix of wildlife, including more than 300 bird species, as well as moose, bear and wolves.
Co-owner and manager Peter Schliefenbaum says that despite the
level of recreational activity in the forest, selective logging has proceeded with few
complaints. Indeed, the coexistence has been so peaceful it is used by owners of private
forests in Europe as a model.
Schliefenbaum describes the goal of the harvesting operation as
removing the poor-quality timber first. So poor is it, he says it would probably be
difficult to find another mill that could make commercial use of the fibre. 'That's a big
reason that this is such an ideal partnership. Tembec, like no other company, is in a
position to be able to use lower quality than any other mill that I have seen."
Earlier logging in the Haliburton Forest left the property with
more than a few scars Ñ a big reason a buyer was difficult to find. 'These lands were
ravaged," says Schliefenbaum. 'It's amazing how many trees you find in the forest
that were actually partially cut at some point, then were just left standing when they
were found to be defective or contained rot."
Schliefenbaum targets areas where he would like to see a
selective cleanup, then Tembec analyzes the area's potential and prepares a detailed
harvesting plan. Individually targeted trees, with a minimum 8'' diameter, are marked with
red ink. Tembec's Huntsville-based manager of forestry and sawmill operations, Gerald
Kroes, says having the flooring plant as a steady customer makes this partnership viable.
'The finished flooring is in lengths anywhere from 12 inches to
eight feet long," he says. 'So what we are able to do is cut between the defects in
order to salvage those good pieces of material that's between them." Among the most
striking characteristics about Haliburton Forest is that logging occurs in the midst of
well-used recreational areas.
"We're logging right to the roads," says Schliefenbaum,
'right to the outhouses of campsites. There is no exception, and recreational activity
goes on right in the middle of logging areas."
Tembec harvests about 50,000 m3 of sawlog material annually,
manufacturing three million board feet of lumber and flooring. About 67 per cent of
sawlogs will end up at their flooring plant. Kroes describes their harvesting approach as,
'old-style logging", consisting of a chainsaw operator and a skidder.
'We have to be very, very careful in our harvesting practice not
to damage any of the residual growing stock," says Kroes, 'because that is our
future. Bigger machines such as feller bunchers would do too much damage with root
compaction and also butting up against the residual growing stock." They are
currently testing minimal impact logging with skidders. Tembec and FERIC are conducting an
experiment in which they have equipped one of the seven skidders working in the Haliburton
Forest with a double drum winch and a new cable system. They hope to minimize forest
damage, make the job more efficient and make the job easier for the operator.
Kroes says they hope to set a new industry standard with their
tree-marking approach. They anticipate much more demand for individual tree marking in
future, considering the high volume of privately held land in the area. The Huntsville
area consists of about 60 per cent privately held land, and 40 per cent public land.
Pulkkinen has spent considerable time touring other sawmills and
addressing AGAWA's main priority, that is developing a log profile from an extensive
inventory conducted on their Crown leases. They want to ensure that changes they make to
the mill will reflect their log supply. Among their findings so far is that they can
expect considerably more pulpwood and hardwood. They will harvest many more smaller and
larger logs than what historically were prime quality pine sawlogs.
The harvesting approach at Haliburton Forest is a tough sell to
contractors. It's physical work, unlike sitting in the quality-controlled comfort of a
modern feller buncher. But Tembec offers contractors an incentive full employment and
forest management training.
'The operators are employed as actual tree markers, which a lot
of people shudder at the thought," says Kroes. 'But here we have people that we have
been working with for many years. They know what we are after. They are not being paid by
the productivity or the quality of the product."
Tembec is prepared to make an employment commitment to operators
in return for a commitment from them that they abide by this unique harvesting philosophy.
'We really have to stress directional felling, and pulling of the cable rather than the
skidder driving to every stump to pick up the tree," Kroes adds.
What Tembec is striving toward is developing all-around forest
workers. These are employees who do more than fell and skid trees. Operators also employed
as tree markers begin to resemble individual forest managers who better understand proper
and sustainable forest management. Hopefully they harvest more carefully as a result.
Tembec's harvesting practices go beyond felling and skidding. Initially, owner
Schliefenbaum was unhappy with the size of log landings. Tembec was skidding to roadside,
using a slasher to buck the material, and then transporting logs using self-loading haul
'The whole operation centred around the performance of the
slasher," says Kroes, 'and if there was downtime associated with it, the landings
would increase in size because more tree-length wood would be put on it." So, to
avoid a number of large landing sites, Tembec employed a tree-length haul using a
self-loading truck to transport logs to a central processing yard where the slasher is now
'That has greatly cut down the size of the landings," says
Kroes, 'and it has also increased the efficiencies of the cut and skid crews."
Schliefenbaum says both industry leaders and the scientific
community have high praise for what has been accomplished at Haliburton Forest. The Forest
has a research affiliation with an American wildlife college, whose students conduct
annual spot checks on logging operations and its impact on wildlife.
'Certainly to them, its very obvious that the type of logging
that's occurring here is very beneficial to a wide array of wildlife," he says, 'and
they are talking from shrews, to moose, wolves, bear, hawks, ospreys and everything in
between. What we are doing here is very sustainable, and that's their verdict." A
number of European foresters also tour the site. 'This is actually what European forestry
is striving for," says Schliefenbaum, 'a mix of recreational and resource use on the
basis of what we are doing here."