Logging and log transport in miombo woodland forests

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study was carried out in Tabora Msitu and Ugalla sawmills which were both logging in the surrounding Tabora miombo woodland forests. The aim was to described and to find out different logging methods, tools and machinery used, production outputs and costs. Tabora Msitu which is located in Tabora town logged about 40km away while Ugalla sawmill (about 120km from Tabora) was situated right in the logging area. In Tabora Msitu, all three operations; cutting, skidding and transport took place while in Ugalla, there was no log skidding. Neither of these mills operated at their full capacities. In Tabora Msitu, the mill operated at almost half its capacity (51%) while the one in Ugalla at only 35% of its capacity. The rated capacity of Tabora Msitu sawmill is estimated to be 17,000m3/year while that of Ugalla 3,000-4,000m3/year. Two man crosscutsaws were used in Ugalla for felling and bucking while in Tabora Msitu, chainsaws were used. Cutting production rates per hour per one 2 man crew were 2.9m3 and 11.7m3 when using crosscutsaws and chainsaws respectively. Multipurpose Ford County tractors were used for skidding logs in Tabora Msitu sawmill. The average skidding distance was 64 meters and load size per trip was only 0.53m3. Volume skidded per hour per crew was 8.5m3 and this cost 22.00 shillings per cubic meter. Transport distance in Tabora Msitu Sawmill was 37 kilometres and 5km for the Ugalla sawmill. In Ugalla, logs were first transported by trucks to the roadside with an average loadsize of 2.7m3. Average truck loads from landing to the mills were 4.7m3 and 4.9m3 in Ugalla and Tabora Msitu sawmills respectively. While it cost Tabora Msitu almost 110 shillings to transport 1m3 of logs to the mill, in Ugalla, it was about 172 shillings per m3. Thus, the use of simple, cheap but worn out tools or machinery is not always a cost saving, but rather a factor contributing to high production costs. In both mills, transport was the most important and expensive operation. In Ugalla, transport operation took almost 93% of the total costs with the rest 7% going to cutting operation. In Tabora Msitu, transport took 77% of the total cost while cutting and skidding took 7 and 16% respectively. Machinery used in both mills had high rates of breakdown and lacked spare arts. In addition they were forced to work in harsh and difficult working environments. The logging crews stayed in camps near the logging areas. They were poorly fed and lacked protective logging equipment. They worked on a task work basis which unfortunately was not properly fixed. Due to uncompleted tasks in Tabora Msitu and small tasks in Ugalla, the production outputs in these two mills were low. To increase productivity, reasonable task work ought to be set and fulfilled. Also, training of workers and introduction of new logging methods, techniques and equipment would increase production.
Available in print form
Abeli, W.S (1979) Logging and log transport in miombo woodland forests, masters dissertation,University of Dar es Salaam, available at (