Whenever I think of commercial forestry, Sweden and Finland are normally the first places that spring to mind. This is probably due to their vast forestry resources and the fact that much of the harvesting equipment we use is manufactured there, yet Norwegian Spruce was once an established species which was common in the British Isles.
Norway, although a neighbour to Sweden, Finland and Russia, often gets overlooked for forestry but it is a relatively small nation that punches well above its weight. It is the second wealthiest country in the world in monetary value with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
Norway’s unemployment rate stands at 4.8% and it has a wealth of natural resources. It is rich in minerals (limestone, iron, titanium and nickel), it is the second largest worldwide exporter of fish, the third largest exporter of natural gas, the fifth largest exporter of oil (and is a non-OPEC member), and it has well over 900 million m³ of timber resources with an annual increment of 26 million m³.
The country’s hydroelectric plants supply 98-99% of the electric power Norway needs, which is a higher percentage than any other country in the world. The population of Norway is just over five million and 16,000 people are employed in the timber and wood processing industry. Tree cover accounts for 37% of the country and 80% of the forests are privately owned; around 10 million m³ of industrial roundwood is harvested annually with a further 2.5 million m³used for domestic firewood.
I have never given much thought to logging in Norway and I was intrigued to find out more, so who better to ask than someone who is involved at the heart of the industry.
Synne Henriksen is a young female operator from Hønefoss, a small village north-east of Oslo and she operates both a PONSSE Buffalo and a Scorpion King for the harvesting company Ringerike Skogsdrift AS.
Synne’s forestry career started at 13 (although none of her family are involved in the forest industry), when she got a job helping out on a local farm during 2 days a week. In Scandinavia, many farmers own their own forests and part of Synne’s duties included helping out in the forest.
Initially, she was extracting the felled timber with a horse but she soon progressed to using a chainsaw in the forest and decided that this was something she really enjoyed and would like to develop further. Synne loved working outdoors and her main hobby when not working was hiking in the countryside.
READ MORE: Horse Logging In The Lake District
She completing her schooling aged 16, in Kongsberg. Which offers a two-year forestry training course as part of their curriculum. The school offers a good, all round, hands on approach to forestry training which includes operating chainsaws, forwarders and simulator training for harvesters. Synne was also tasked with felling trees on steep mountainsides for which harvester access was difficult.
She joined Ringerike Skogsdrift AS just over three years ago and currently alternates between operating a PONSSE Buffalo and a Scorpion King. Both machines are relatively new – the Scorpion has 900 hrs and the Buffalo has 3600. Unfortunately Synne is heading over to the “dark side” with a preference for operating the harvester. Ringerike Skogsdrift AS have five forestry machines, all of which are PONSSE’s: two Scorpion Kings, one with a H6 harvesting head and the other with a H7, and three Buffalo forwarders. They carry out both clearfell and thinning operations and there are seven employees.
They predominantly supply the timber to two sawmills: Begna Bruk, which supplies specially dried strength graded construction timber, and Moelven. Moelven is a large wood processing company with 16 sawmills in Norway and Sweden. The organisation processes over 2 million m³ of sustainable roundwood each year and has over 3,500 employees dispersed throughout 37 production companies in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK.
They started with a single mill over 120 years ago in Moelven in Norway producing wagon wheels and have grown steadily. Presently, they manufacture everything you need in terms of wood for your home, lumber for industry, glulam, building modules, flexible office solutions, chips and bioenergy.
Most of the timber grown in the region is Spruce and Pine and is sought after as, with the colder climate, the fibre is slow grown and strong which provides good quality timber. Some of the crops they harvest are ideal for producing telephone and electricity poles.
Synne explained that the logging industry is in excellent shape in Norway; the last few years have been very good and this year has been exceptional with record prices for timber.
I asked Synne about how operators are paid in Norway and most are paid by the hour. Her normal working day is from seven am until three pm five days a week, with any extra hours and weekend work paid as overtime. Some operators can be paid by the m³ but this is not common practice. She carries out most running repairs and small services herself, but the main services at midday are carried out by a PONSSE service engineer with Synne helping out. Most of her work is between five and 15 minutes from her house so doesn’t involve much travelling or staying away, which Synne is delighted with.
Forwarding is quite straightforward as the cut lengths are between 3.5m and 5.9m and a therefore usually a single bunk. On a normal week with a reasonable extraction distance Synne averages 700-900m³.
She has operated a few different makes of machines – Timberjack, John Deere, Valmet, Komatsu, Osa, Rottne and PONSSE -so I asked her if she had a preference and without hesitation she said that she loved operating the PONSSE Scorpion King.
READ MORE: PONSSE Scorpion King Harvester Report
“It’s an amazing workplace, spacious, comfortable and smooth with fantastic all round vision. It is easy to use and the cab is really well laid out. I feel very secure when working the Scorpion as the machine is very stable even when harvesting trees at full reach. Even on the roughest ground it is comfortable to sit in and the climbing ability on steep slopes is fantastic.”
I asked Synne what the future held and she said: “I think I will be in forestry a long time, I enjoy coming to work and I couldn’t ask for a better job. Every day is exciting and you learn something new.”
This article featured in Forest Machine Magazine in February 2019.
PONSSE’s 50th Anniversary
2020 was PONSSE’s 50th anniversary year. To celebrate PONSSE had planned a roadshow starting in Europe and passing through other continents as the year went on. Unfortunately due to Covid all plans had to be scrapped.
Synne Henriksen and Pekka Hakkarainen were the faces of PONSSE’s 50th anniversary photo – a young professional representing a new generation alongside a seasoned logging veteran.
Synne is a familiar sight at the challenging sites of Hallingby, located north of Oslo, operating both a PONSSE Scorpion King and a PONSSE Elephant King. “I want to feel that I’m doing a good job. I like challenges, and there are plenty of them in the forests. In the area where I work, the terrain is undulating, so you need to know the terrain, the machine and yourself well,” Synne says.
Pekka Hakkarainen is a fourth-generation machine entrepreneur from Nilsiä, Finland. Pekka has vivid memories of the past decades when the forestry
industry was dominated by men. “Times are changing, and Synne
and other young professionals are a good example of this. People who enjoy being in the forest and really want to work hard and efficiently are a unique breed,” Pekka says.
“The job of a forest machine operator is very suitable for us women.
This is an amazing job in terms of both the working environment
and the challenges it presents,” Synne says. “When work is going smoothly, you get the feeling that this will be a very good day,”
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