What you need to think about when planning road infrastructure?

The decision to construct a road, whether large or small, within your forest requires very careful consideration. In most cases, road infrastructure represents the single largest capital cost outside of purchasing the forest or land.

Road infrastructure is a huge capital cost

In light of this, timing of when to start and how to phase a road building programme can require thorough planning in order to help both minimise the degree of financial exposure the forest owner will face as well as maximising the potential income from establishing infrastructure which should allow suitable access for operations such as establishment, tending and harvesting.

The design of the road needs careful thought. Access to allow for the uplift of harvested timber will require a road with a suitable firm construction to carry a maximum gross vehicle weight of 44 tonnes. Allowing for enough width to turn near the location of roadside timber and also allowing enough width on corners along the road are key to minimising the distance lorries need to run on as well as ensuring all road users remain safe when travelling. Some knowledge of the underlying geology, the soil structure and the location of available stone are essential.

Consideration needs to be given to minimising the environmental impact of a new road

Consideration also needs to be given to minimising the environmental impact of a new road. Factors such as managing watercourses, managing habitat and minimising the impact on local communities need to be given thought.

Over recent years, there has been a move towards lowering the impact caused by timber lorries within the forest through the use of systems such as Central Tyre Inflation (CTI) which allows the driver to reduce tyre pressure when travelling off the public road. Specific ‘in-forest’ haulage systems can also be used, which can consist of a simple 4-wheel drive tractor and trailer or something more specific, such as a purpose built unit capable of moving large quantities of timber out to a landing area close to the public road. Whilst there is usually an additional cost associated with running these systems, it can usually be offset by reducing the cost of ongoing road maintenance.

To find out more information about road construction, watch our Prince of Wales Woodlands case study on YouTube: watch video here.