Rod Bealing and Dave Barker standing beside a stack of logs as they watch a feller buncher

Dave Barker shows Rod Bealing around a Managed Forest property on southern Vancouver Island.

When opportunity knocks, we answer. That’s why, when Dave Barker invited us to visit a private Managed Forest on southern Vancouver Island, for the rare opportunity to see single-tree selection harvesting, we yanked on our boots, donned our hard hats, grabbed our cameras and leapt at the chance.

Dave’s managed the property since 1979. He knows everything there is to know about it. He says they’re ecologically lucky. The Coastal Western Hemlock zone is wetter and cooler than the Coastal Douglas-fir zone. This means, instead of a pure fir forest, they have a significant, healthy Red Cedar understory. With thinning, the forest will evolve, over the next fifty years, into a mixed fir/cedar stand.

The strategy on the property is to manage for a combination of forestry and recreational use. While fir poles are their focus, they produce close to 40 products – 5 cedar, 2 maple, 2 alder and about 30 fir grades – for 4 different suppliers. All the while, maintaining the wilderness esthetic and conservation values important to the owner. The silvicultural system they use combines small patch clear-cut and single-tree selection harvesting.

Not only is single-tree selection harvesting a rare event, but using a feller buncher in the process is particularly unusual. Of course, it’s not about the machine, it’s about the operator. In this case, it’s about Bill.

The video above shows the finesse, grace and ease with which Bill maneuvers the feller buncher through the forest. The machine’s gentle tracks have little or no impact on the forest floor and cause minimal soil disturbance.

Like the harvester-processor we saw Dale operating, the feller buncher is made by Madill and built right here on Vancouver Island.

Thanks again to Dave and Bill for showing us around.

For more photos of the property, and the feller buncher, check out our Facebook page.