Every oak is a unique project
The Rya farm, located some fifty kilometres from Kährs factory in Nybro, is characterised by its lush oak forests and meadows, surrounded by old stone walls. Some of the oaks are more than 500 years old. Rya has perfect conditions for growing oaks, with fine clay soil and slopes with running water near the roots of the trees.
“It is high time that we felled some of our trees. There has been no oak or other wood harvested in Rya for many years now. Old and large oak trees need to be removed when they are ready for felling,” explains Karl-Erik Bigelius at Rya. Around 300 cubic metres of oak are to be delivered to Kährs.
He says that forest owners find it difficult to mark oaks for cross-cutting. The marking must be performed in the best way possible for the logs to be lopped correctly to the right length, without being damaged, which is crucial for securing the best prices. There’s also demand for the wood from the branches of oak trees, which is turned into woodchip with a high energy value. The most valuable oak trees are 30-50 cm in diameter.
It is high time that we felled some of our trees. There has been no oak or other wood harvested in Rya for many years now. Old and large oak trees need to be removed when they are ready for felling.Karl-Erik Bigelius at Rya
The intrinsic power of oak
Leif Svensson and Pontus Grönlund are two experienced woodcutters at Leif Svensson Handel med Ek, one of the contractors working with Kährs.
“It's really exciting to handle oaks. Every oak is a project in itself. No other wood species is as diverse as oak – it can be very valuable, or it might only be suitable for turning into firewood or woodchip. We have to have respect for the oak, as there’s a lot of power and vitality in these trees, in their branches. Felling oak is more technical than just felling by force. Once the tree has been felled, the trunk is pruned at the top so that the woodcutter can get a good idea of its size and quality,” Leif Svensson says.
“The challenge lies in the fact that oak trees are so heavy that you can’t just simply do whatever you like. Branches can spring back and fly several metres. They can also turn over if you’re really unlucky,” adds Pontus Grönlund.
A large oak can weigh five tonnes. While the woodcutters have to be efficient, they also have to proceed with caution - and consider nature as well. A number of lofty oaks are being left to stand at the farm in Rya.
“Oak, which has been marked correctly for cross-cutting, will fetch a better price. And at the same time, Kährs gets the right raw materials for its production,” says Leif. On a good day, two men can fell enough trees to fill a truck and trailer; that’s around 30 cubic metres of trees.
Leif has also felled oak used in the renovation of the Royal Ship, Vasa. “Visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, and realising that oak that I had felled was there in the bowsprit of the ship, was pretty special!”