– By Michael J. Bartlett, Forest Resources Manager, Hull Forest Products, Inc.

In 1995 AF&PA, the American Forest & Paper Association, embarked on a forest certification program called the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, SFI. One of the requirements of the SFI program is that a logger supplying logs to, or harvesting on the lands of a participant in the program, needs to have completed a recognized logger training program. The Southern New England Logger Education Committee was formed as an outgrowth of the SFI program and those interested in voluntarily improving the standards of timber harvesting practices

The Southern New England Logger Education Committee, a group loggers and foresters from both private and public entities, gathered to develop the requirements for the Southern New England Professional Logger Certificate, SNEPLC. The goal of the SNEPLC is to improve professionalism, performance, and image as well as assure the public that timber harvesting is being preformed in a manner consistent with the practice of sustainable forestry. The requirements for one to earn the Southern New England Professional Logger Certificate are that during a two year period they must complete the following training in four categories: 4 hours in Professional Business Management, 8 hours in Environmental Considerations for Sustainable Forestry Management, 12 hours in Timber Harvesting and Transportation Safety, and 8 hours in Emergency Medical Response and First Aid. Joe Smith of The Forest & Wood Products Institute at Mount Watchusett Community College (http://wood.mwcc.edu) in Gardner, MA., is in charge of administering this certification program.

Why should a landowner be concerned with how safely the logger working on his/her property conducts a timber harvest? Safety should be the number one concern of anyone involved in any timber harvest. Following safety, the next expectation of any landowner should be how well the logger meets the management objectives or desired future condition of the forest. Loggers holding the SNE Professional Logger Certificate have been trained to work in a safe and productive manner that minimizes chance of injury and minimizes the impact of the operation on the residual stand. Included in the training are the Basic Logger Rescue Course and the Advanced Logger Rescue Course. These classes prepare loggers to deal with hazardous situations commonly encountered on logging jobs, the basics of first aid and CPR and, in the second course, ways to deal with a serious accident in the woods on the logging job and how harvesting equipment may be used in a rescue situation.

The Game of Logging , one of many courses offered, is the number one training program for professional loggers. It includes hands-on training in productive and safe use of the chainsaw, personal protective equipment, the saw blade, safe felling methods, bore cutting, and the open faced notch. This training course exceeds the requirements of the Timber Harvesting and Transportation and the Professional Business Categories for the SNEPLC. In the course Productive Skidding , loggers learn how to separate felling and skidding functions on the ground creating a “cool” system that provides a safer workplace, while maintaining or increasing production. The key to this system is communication between the feller and the skidder operator. This is accomplished through pre-planning and layout with a flagging system. Participants help plan and flag an actual logging job, and learn about strip cutting techniques, optimizing hitch size and skidding distance, and per minute operating costs.

As a steward of clients’ land, I am concerned with all loggers’ professional abilities. I am looking at how they work to minimize the damage to the residual stand of trees, both through their felling techniques and removal methods. The loggers that have earned the SNEPLC have been exposed to the training and have the knowledge needed to get the job done properly.

The comprehensive training for the SNEPLC helps loggers understand and comply with sustainable forest management practices and environmental regulations when conducting a timber harvest. Among the topics covered in An Introduction to Forest Ecology and Silviculture are shade tolerance, competition, succession, stand development, site quality, the objectives and origins of silviculture, intermediate and regeneration treatments, non-timber objectives and stocking. Protecting Stream Habitats and Water Quality is a new offering which addresses the functions of streams and riparian zones, the impacts of stream crossings, the use of skidder bridges and Best Management Practices required by the MA Cutting Practices Act. A new protocol being developed by the US Forest Service in cooperation with the Northeastern Area State Foresters for measuring and monitoring logging-related impacts to water quality will be discussed as part of this course.

Ongoing continuing education after two years is necessary to maintain the SNEPL certificate. The Southern New England Logger Education Program is provided in cooperation with Massachusetts Wood Producers Association, CT DEP, MA DEM, RI DEM, UCONN Cooperative Extension, UMASS Cooperative Extension and The Forest & Wood Products Institute.

The Southern New England Professional Logger Certificate is not a regulatory program. It is a voluntary program that identifies and recognizes loggers who have gone above and beyond the statutory requirements for a professional logger. Through their participation, they are demonstrating a desire to improve their knowledge of how to work in a safe, efficient, environmentally sensitive manner, and to be a cut above the rest in their efforts to meet the landowners’ objectives. To date there are only 23 loggers that hold the SNEPLC in MA, CT & RI.

As a member of the AF&PA and a participant in the SFI Program, Hull Forest Products requires that a contractor harvesting for them have completed the courses needed for their SNEPLC.

Considering a timber harvest? Ask if the logger doing the work has earned the Southern New England Professional Logger Certificate.

This article originally appeared in the December 2002 ECFLA/WDLT Newsletter.