Logging Plant Operator

The forestry industry is a significant contributor to the national economy, accounting for around 1% of its GDP. Forestry operations could however have significant impact on the natural environment, which could compromise both ecosystems functioning as well as the sustainability of the industry. Improved and responsible logging practices is key to promoting sustainable timber extraction and long-term ecosystem health.

Logging plant operators operate machinery to shear tree limbs, fell, drag and organise cut pieces into preassigned areas. They confirm the tree species and log and load cut logs on transporter trucks and prepare relevant documentation as needed. Some purchase supplies and replacement parts to assist with or maintain and repair vehicles and machinery. They also work with specialists for the upgrade and repair of machinery and vehicles.

Logging plant operators work as part of a logging team. Due to the dangerous nature of work, they are required to wear protective gear. Weather conditions also determine the work of logging plant operators.

Skills

Logging plant operators need a basic understanding of tree species and the capability to operate varied types of tree felling equipment and machinery. They will further benefit from:

  • Excellent hand-eye coordination and multitasking ability
  • Astute attention to detail
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work well as part of a team

Tasks

Prepare and position logging equipment for operations

Drive logging machinery to transport logs from felling sites

Inspect equipment for safe and effective operation

Perform basic maintenance tasks on logging machinery

Studies

Logging plant operators can benefit from a General Education and Training or Further Education and Training Certificate in General Forestry or a National Certificate in Forestry (Silviculture) at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to 4 offered at Opelong Business Institute, Uphiwe Skills Training College and the South African Forestry Company Limited. However, most training takes place on the job with a mentor. 

Employers

Timber plantations and sawmill organisations.

Private forestry and preservation companies.

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