Animals Used for Forest Work
As an expert, I am against animals being used for work in forests because it is no longer as necessary as before. Such practice has been abolished in the early 1960's. Common belief is that animals are better than machines for work on rough terrain. This could not be further from the truth, because machines can operate on every type of terrain more effectively than any animal.
Science-based forestry dates from the late 18th century (France) and has more or less stayed the same to this day, with the exception of heavy work being done by machinery, and not by man or animal. According to Karlovac School of Forestry, forestry is a traditional science, which does not go through any radical change, except for introducing new machinery and using computers for collecting, transferring and processing data.
The first major advancement in forestry was the invention of the chainsaw in Sweden in the late 1950's. The chainsaw completely replaced the traditional saw in logging activities. Although the tractors for hauling logs were invented before 1960, the first ones with a caterpillar track were not fully developed until the 1970's. Because such vehicles damage the soil and the outgrowth, new ones fitted with rubber tires instead of a caterpillar track were manufactured. They can also be air-conditioned and equipped with computers. There are the ones that tow the logs with a steel cord, and there are the so-called "forwarders," which have a crane with which they load the logs or other wooden material. Forest cableways operate on very steep terrain, and there is no type of terrain that forest machines could not reach.
Hrvatske sume (a state-owned company that takes care of Croatia's forests) use three basic excuses, which are not based on facts, for the use of animals in forest work:
- Machines cannot operate on steep and rough terrain. - We have already verified that there is no type of terrain where forest machines could not work on. The statement of the officials from Hrvatske sume is false.
- It is not cost effective to use machines when the value of goods is little. - Yet again, false - costs can be cut down by proper management and organization. Incompetence does not justify animal torture.
- Heavy machinery damages the soil and the outgrowth. - This applies only to caterpillars. It is important to know that with the proper use of such vehicles the damage to the environment can be substantially lessened.
I find the officials hypocritical when they say that it is common for workhorses to be injured. Before the use of machines, horses were being injured less than men were, because horses had to be healthy in order for the owner to have any use of them. Their income depended on the horse's health condition. Open wounds were out of the question. All injuries are the result of human carelessness. The head of Forestry is obliged to investigate any accounts of animals or people being injured and to set appropriate disciplinary measures. The same goes for forests and hunting grounds alike. Any reports should be investigated. When dealing with companies, their contract can be deemed invalid or other actions can be taken according to law. Against its own employees, the Forestry acts according to the regulations in force.
Zoran Tasic, forest technician