Mechanization in Japanese forestry

Mechanization in Japanese forestry has been accelerated since the introduction of chain saw and logging tractor in Hokkaido prefecture to dispose trees damaged by a huge typhoon in 1954.

In 1970's the present forestry work system that includes felling by chain saw, logging by tractor or yarder and transportation by truck was established. Since then some improvement in those machinery has been done but the system itself has not changed.

In the latter half of 1980's, import of high performance machines which were used in northern European countries and development of machines suitable for domestic forestry started.

Mechanization is expected to dissolve the problems in Japanese forestry works such as high production costs, recent drastic decrease of forestry workers, industrial accidents and so on.

Forestry machines popularized in last 10 years

Self-propelled hoist carriage

This type of carriage is rapidly spreading in recent years for yarding in a small thinning area. It can perform yarding by a self-propelled carriage on the skyline with a built-in engine, drive sheaves and winch drum and can be easily operated by radio remote control.


Processor is a machine for delimbing and bucking, most utilized high-performance forestry machine in Japan. Processor is required abilities to measure the length of logs exactly and delimb thick branch of Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa) which is one of the main wood species.


Harvester is a machine for felling, delimbing and bucking. As to harvester, it is needed to buck accurately and delimb thick branch, as well as processor. One-grip type model of harvester has a majority because excavators are used as basemachine in most cases.


Forwarder is used for forwarding, and carrying bucked logs on the bed. Small-sized forwarders with grapple loaders, less than 3 tons in the loading weight, are mainly used in Japan.

Number of Forestry Machines in JAPAN

Source data in Forestry Agency, 1998

Photo: Takumi Uemura