In western Canada, steep terrain is an important source of fibre that’s not easily accessed. Timber harvesting on steep slopes poses significant safety and cost challenges. To find solutions and improve the overall viability of this type of harvesting, FPInnovations launched the five-year Steep Slope Initiative in 2015, engaging industry members, various federal and B.C. government agencies, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and other stakeholders.
Since the launch, FPInnovations has helped deliver tangible safety, cost, and fibre availability benefits for its B.C. members. The focus in the second year of the initiative was on promoting the introduction of winch-assisted ground-based equipment in B.C. With this approach, machines are secured to an anchoring point via a steel cable. By putting workers in the safety of a cab, the winch-assisted equipment can replace manual falling. “This technology has been used safely in Europe, New Zealand, and elsewhere,” says Researcher Dzhamal Amishev.
FPInnovations worked with WorkSafe BC and equipment suppliers to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology in B.C. conditions and hosted workshops that featured international experts and users of the technology. FPInnovations also produced videos and gave presentations at targeted events, and is working with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to quantify fibre availability gains and environmental impact concerns.
“The number of winch-assisted systems in B.C. has really exploded. In just two years, the province went from one machine to nearly fifty machines in place,” says Amishev. FPInnovations has produced a technology review covering all the systems in use, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages for potential buyers as well as field studies of the first units implemented in B.C. “We’re also providing support for a local equipment manufacturer to develop and commercialize the first home-grown winch-assisted system in B.C. that is tailored to the area’s conditions,” adds Amishev.
The Steep Slope Initiative will continue to focus on safety in the coming year through the development of best management practices.
For more information, please contact Dzhamal Amishev.
This article was originally published in the 2016-2017 IMPACT magazine.