In the Laboratory of Forest Engineering, the chief subjects are the technology that can bring forest resources (especially trees) into a condition where they can be used effectively. Specifically, in the logging process that takes a tree from felling to transporting it out of the forest, we focus on the construction of forest operation systems, the efficiency of forest operations, the infrastructure of forest road network, the maintenance of forest roads, reducing the physical load of forestry work and establishing a system for making use of discarded forestry biomass. Japan has 25,000,000 hectares of forest, and 10,000,000 hectares of this are man-made forest. We have lots of forest resources in Japan. However, most of these are not used and remain untouched, mainly for economic reasons. Man-made forests are now being seen as having decreasing environmental and economic value. It is particularly important to thin these forests, which were created across large areas from the 1950s to the 1970s, both to preserve them as an economic resource and to protect the environment.
Large machines for forestry and the forest operating system
Promoting the introduction of large, high-performance machines is thought to be the key to making Japan's forest resources economically viable. The point of bringing in machines is to increase production efficiency, reduce production costs and supply timber that can compete against imported lumber. Also, intensity of work must be reduced as the average age of forestry workers increases. This can be partially dealt with by the introduction of machines. However, the machines currently available were developed in North America and Europe, and their value is often limited as their activity is hampered in Japanese forests. We need to develop machines that are suitable for use in Japanese forests and methods for using them successfully.
Forest road and strip road
When large machines are brought into a forest operation, the construction of forest roads and strip roads becomes essential. Sometimes, forest roads are not only valuable for forest operations but are also useful for inter-regional access. Although strip roads are indispensable when using large machines for forestry, they do not have a history of lasting very long. We are looking for ways to build roads that are low in cost, and do not have an adverse effect on the surrounding environment.
This is a processor that turns felled trees into logs along a strip road. We survey such operations and find ways to increase productivity and improve operations.
Here they are loading logs into a forwarder that transports logs along a strip road