Logging debris (slash) left behind on used skid sites has long been a problem for forest owners.
The problem has increased over the years, as logging machinery has gotten bigger and extraction distances have increased, resulting in more slash accumulation on fewer skid sites.
Slash needs to be mounded tidily by the land-prep contractor, so that the area it occupies is minimised and the area available for replanting is maximised.
Slash also carries a risk of spontaneous combustion and several fires have begun in this way. Even if detected very early, these fires can be difficult and expensive to extinguish.
In steep topography, there is a risk that slash can be mobilised in extreme rain events, and – in the worst cases – wash down rivers and end up on other landowners’ property or even beaches.
But times are changing, and there are promising signs that slash may soon become a saleable product. With the government incentivising boiler conversions from coal to biofuels, large-scale energy consumers like dairy factories and meat processors are scrambling to secure fuel sources.
Wenita is participating in a slash-recovery project, likely to begin in March/April this year, and it will be interesting to see whether biofuel demand does prove to be a gamechanger for slash management.