It’s common to look back at the year now gone and wonder, where did the time go? And that seems more apt this year than any other. So, join us as we take a look back at some of our most memorable features of 2020.

WE kicked off the year by paying a visit to Mike Tyson, who had just launched his new company, Low Impact Forestry, offering environmentally sensitive forestry services in North Yorkshire and the North East. He had recently invested in a new machine – the Logbullet. This lightweight mini forwarder from Finland is powered by a Kubota V1505 diesel engine and is equipped with a Farma crane.

Speaking at the time, Mike said: “I think its main selling points are its nimbleness, its capacity to work and its very competitive price point. But, for me, what I really like is its simplicity. There’s hardly any electronics on it, and most stuff, if it breaks, can be fixed by me, a pal or my local engineers.”

READ MORE: Biting the bullet

In February, we took a look at the history of the totem pole. Thought to have originated with the Haida Native American peoples in the Pacific Northwest region of America, the decorative timberwork is now seen around the globe. As part of the feature, we highlighted the work of chainsaw carver Simon Jackson, who has created three totems erected in Northumberland National Park.

March saw us speak with John Hancox, director of Scottish Fruit Trees, who made the case for increased planting of fruit trees. John told Forestry Journal: “There are a lot of benefits to be gained for many people from planting fruit trees. It could improve health and wellbeing and make the environment better for people and for wildlife. Additionally, normally when you plant trees you have to wait 25 to 30 years for produce, but with fruit trees you can plant them and in three to four years get a good, usable crop.”

In April, Forestry Journal visited the Ministry of Defence’s Salisbury Plain Training Area, where the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, along with its strategic partner, Landmarc Support Services, had recently begun carrying out a clearance scheme to remove trees infected with ash dieback.

READ MORE: ExTe: Taking Swedish lessons

We were Sweden-bound in May, when Forestry Journal editor John McNee reported on a group of timber hauliers visiting timber bunk manufacturer ExTe. The expedition, organised by Clark Engineering, featured a sawmill tour and the opportunity to see timber haulage innovations including the TU auto tensioner and Com 90 in action. Also in May, we reached out to a number of contractors from across the sector to see how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted them. Many expressed concerns about losing work but were following government advice, adhering to social distancing rules, and making the best of the situation.

We caught up with Ron Young of Dunnydeer Services in June, soon after he had taken delivery of two Hyundai HX 140LX HWC excavators. “These high-walker excavators offer so much more ground clearance than a standard machine and this is vital when working on mounding sites,” said Ron at the time. “Brash, roots and debris all present challenges to an operator while working on restock sites, and the fact that this type of machine’s undercarriage is better protected is vital. Also, the fact there are track guards and adjusters on the machines, which are designed to help keep the tracks from popping off, is a godsend.”

READ MORE: Harvesting in the time of coronavirus

In July, we reported on how Aberdeenshire-based family firm Prosser Forestry kept working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recent first thinning project in the Highlands, which presented its own challenges. A rocky outcrop with boulders “the size of Mini cars” needed to be navigated to get to Scots pine and larch, while the ground at the lower end of the site was of peat formation (15 feet deep in some of the wettest areas), with wind-twisted Sitka spruce and lodgepole.

Forestry Journal took a trip into the hills of Dumfries and Galloway in the August issue to see the Rottne H21D harvester in action, and paid a visit to UK dealer Jim Wilmer & Sons along the way. At the controls of the powerful eight-wheel-drive harvester was operator David Little, tasked with clearing dense stands of Sitka spruce. “It’s a fine harvester,” said David. “I’ve been on the diggers for the past five years, so it’s nice to come back to some comfort again. The last three machines I had before that were all Rottnes, so I have had a bit of experience with them. They’re very good machines.”

READ MORE: Bringing the blues

In September, we took a trip down memory lane to revisit past APF events, following the news of the event’s postponement to 2021 in light of the pandemic. Forestry Journal raided its archives for a selection of pictures from 40 years of the APF’s history, assisted by the first exhibition director Roger Fitter, who shared some of his recollections.

Our October issue came with the #APFthatneverwas showcase, providing a comprehensive account of all the trade that would have been exhibiting, the goods and services they are currently promoting and the best way to get in touch with them. Our October issue also featured an interview with Stuart Munro of Munro Forestry, who spoke about how he swapped farm work for the forest.

In November, we followed up our feature from May and got back in touch with a number of contractors to see how they were feeling about the COVID-19 pandemic six months on. There were a number of encouraging stories, with companies reporting they had been busy, but sadly, others had shut their doors for good.

The year brought many unprecedented challenges, professional and personal, to us all. We at Forestry Journal are immensely proud that the industry has risen to those challenges, producing key products such as pallets, packaging, biomass fuel and face masks. What’s more, we are proud of the fact that we have supported the industry throughout, sharing your stories, and providing you with the latest news and views from the sector. You adapted and so did we.

Here’s to 2021, whatever it may bring!

Forestry Journal remains dedicated to bringing you all the latest news and views from across our industry, plus up-to-date information on the impacts of COVID-19.

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Thanks – and stay safe.