Tree Feller Operator

Forestry plays a key role in the functioning of ecosystems and South Africa is richly endowed with more than 1 700 tree and shrub species. To ensure sustainable access to forestry spaces and products, responsible practices that yield the greatest economic and social benefit, with minimal environmental impact are needed. Tree felling is part of the logging process in forestry operations, where trees are sustainably harvested for production.

Tree feller operators use hand-held chain saws to trim top branches and cut down trees. Prior to cutting, they make observations to determine the safest and natural way for the branches and trees to fall. Once the tree has been cut down, they cut the tree into more manageable pieces so that it can be easily transported. Some can also assist other crew members by attaching cut trees to tractors to transport to preassigned areas.

Tree feller operators work as part of a logging team coordinating areas of forests to fell. Due to the dangerous nature of work, they are required to wear protective gear. Weather conditions and seasons determine work frequency and hours.


A good knowledge of tree species and their characteristics as well as cutting techniques is required by tree feller operators. They will further benefit from:

  • Physical stamina and strength 
  • Astute attention to detail
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work well as part of a team


Plan and decide on best felling methods for a forested area

Clear area around intended fall of each tree

Remove or trim branches and tree tops

Operate manual and machine saws to fell trees


Tree feller 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.


Timber plantations and sawmill organisations.

Private forestry preservation companies 

National, provincial and local government.

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