On-site training January 2021
City & Guilds NPTC, Level 3 Award 301 in Felling & Processing trees over 380mm, is available as either independently assessed or as Integrated Assessment. This article reviews the course content, the broader benefits of completing the unit and highlights some recent courses run on-site for clients near Isfield in East Sussex.
Compared to the entry-level felling unit City & Guilds L2 Award 203 in Felling trees under 380mm, this follow-on unit is not a popular choice.
There could be various reasons for this. Perhaps a focus on arboriculture leads many to develop their aerial skills. There may be a low level of awareness about the advanced skills required in felling more giant trees, combined with a misconception that one certification covers all felling. It's a worry that most chainsaw operators' training and skill development starts and stops at felling under 380mm level – after all, trees don't stop growing when they get to 380mm diameter.
In simple terms, the skills used to fell a small tree can be scaled up by applying a more extensive guide bar. That's true of a standard felling cut from our basic training courses and the sweep cut taught on the Felling trees over 380mm course. What changes, however, are the implications of felling larger material.
- Longer and wider reach in terms of protecting operators, public and utilities/property
- Increased forces required to move trees weighted against the felling direction
- More likely that assisted felling techniques are required
- More complex and dangerous crown breakdown following felling
- Increased scope for machinery integration & hazards
- Careful environmental & habitat assessment required
- More serious consequences when dealing with Hung Up Trees
- Valuable timber to ruin with poor quality cuts
- More technical layout for extraction and utilisation
Over the years, the units have evolved, most recently with the 301 unit replacing the old City & Guilds NPTC felling medium trees unit (CS32). The large tree felling unit 313, whilst still available, is somewhat redundant as the new Felling trees over 380mm have no upper limit. However, this unit has the extra pre-requisite of assisted felling, and a pulling system can be employed if appropriate.
|Tree parameters||Old unit||CS Unit||Current|
|Small||CS 11 <450mm||CS31 <380mm||203 <380mm|
|Medium||CS12 up to 1.5x guidebar||
301 >380mm no upper limit
Bore through sink required
|Large||CS13 not exceeding >2x guidebar||
Saw- any but assisted felling pre-requisite.
Generally, we run this course on our Lamberhurst or Flimwell sites as this offers confidence over felling permissions and machinery backup for the inevitable hung up trees. Still, in January following requests from the main client, we ran this course on-site at the Sutton Hall Estate near Barcombe.
The course is predominately practical with theory delivered in a context in small sessions and covers the following key areas:
- Preparation – Risk assessment, emergency planning, application of relevant health & safety & industry guidance.
- Site assessment & protection with signing & banks man. Felling layout & order to facilitate efficient timber extraction
- Individual tree assessment, for condition, wildlife, hazards and to select the best matched felling option.
- Depending upon experience review of up to 380mm techniques.
- Sweep cut is primary technique taught for upright trees and can include bore cuts through sink
- Dog tooth for forward leaners
- Split level for backward weighted trees in 400-480mm range
- Hung up tree focus following on from basic 80/20 to stump preparation, letterbox construction, peg removal and winch for rolling and pulled recovery via offset or straight set ups both hand and tractor powered winch. We look at trees felled at low level near the ground and larger overstood coppice stems (500mm) that need to be steered away from buttress pockets or softer ground.
Benefits – beyond the above course content
In addition to the above core content clients tell us they really value the following content or learning outcomes:
- Organising the organizing felling site, especially planning the order of felling for groups and individual trees.
- Focus on efficiency of working, particularly in canopy breakdown developing snedding skills learned at a basic level and on large broadleaf crown breakdown.
- Introduction to a range of machinery - either concurrent with the felling or for later extraction and how to integrate this into the felling and extraction plan.
- Marketing, measuring and presentation of timber for extraction or sale.
- Weather impacts on felling
On site requirements
When considering an alternative site, we use the following table to help us decide whether the course can be run efficiently and safely.
|Site hazards? eg right of way, other uses, power lines, etc|
|Size ranges of trees|
|Felling objectives - clear fell/thinning|
|Felling licence - attached including compartment map|
|Access? – eg hard surface|
|Is there is any machine support? Eg tractor winch/360 timber grapple|
|Brash removal plans?|
|Are we able to have a fire?|