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Austrian logging conference report

23 October 2019

The Symposium Formec “Forestry Mechanization” was held in Sopron and Forchtenstein (Hungary & Austria) from the 6th – 9th October, crossing over with the Austrofoma machine demonstration (held every four years). The conference is organised by Boku University, Vienna.

The purpose of Formec is to combine experience from worldwide scientists, researchers and practitioners in forest operations and planning on close-to-nature principles. As well as this, encourage cooperation, gather knowledge and improve exchange of information in forestry profession and science.

Many research projects were displayed at Formec with around 100 presenters. The presentations I found to push the envelope of forest engineering was the autonomous forwarder which emphasises the aim to get the man of the slope. Issues raised with this innovation are reliance on consistent cut slope and tracks for accurate and safe machine movement via lasers.

Of course, the Scion tree robot presented by Richard Parker would be a large talking point, adopting artificial intelligence to forest engineering in a unique way. The opportunities with this machine are outstanding; thinning, extracting directly to log truck and continuous cover harvesting as in Europe.

Austrofoma followed the Formec conference, involving a 6km trail through the forests of the Esterhazy farms (sea of red hard hats). The event saw 150 exhibitors and 20,800 visitors over four days from 7th – 10th October. The practical and future-oriented use of forestry machines on display shows that near-natural forest management is compatible with modern, contemporary forest technology.

Source: Cameron Leslie, PHD Student, University of Canterbury
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