Monday, September 15, 2008

Insights into logging activities

Aerial view from a Hornbill Skyway helicopter of the tropical virgin forests in Balui, Belaga.

Another aerial view of the forests in Balui. At left is a logging road and a bridge crossing a stream .

A huge logging camp cum log pond belonging to Shin Yang in Bakun area.

A welder reparing a container which is very useful in logging camps especially to store spare parts and tyres.

A store room with expensive spare parts. A logging camp well stocked with spare parts can always ensure smooth operation and produce more logs.
Logging camps are always located in the remote areas deep in the interior. Powerful generators are essential to provide electricity to light up the camp and to power the tools at the workshop.The camps are also well stocked with drums and drums of engine oil.

Almost all the machinery is run on diesel. Rectangular and round diesel tanks are placed in strategic locations to ease operations.The round tank (below) is also called the skid tank which can be pulled to different places.


This tank is placed at the road side so that logging trucks and other vechicles can fill up without returning to the base camp.

A new logging truck like this can cost up to more than half a million ringgit. The preferred brands are Mercedes and Volvo, trusted for their safety, durability and ability to transport more volume of logs.

A fully loaded barge with heavy logging machinery such as bulldozer,excavator,shovel,dump truck,pick-up etc ready to be towed to a new camp.


Nowadays it is common that logging roads are a few hundred kilometers in distance. In some central and west African countries the roads can be more than 1,000 kilometers. The picture above was taken in Wasior, Irian Jaya. This is considered a good logging road.

Dump truck like this is used to transport supplies from the camps to the logging areas and also to move gravel and earth for the road construction and maintenance.

Pick-up and powerful 4-WD vehicles rule the logging roads.Normally only the camp manager,supervisor and mechanic are authorized to drive these vehicles.

Excavator is used to build and maintain the road. In the recent decade, it is also modified to extract and pull logs especially in the lowland and swamp forests.

This is the shovel used to load and unload logs onto the logging trucks and also to stack logs in piles after being sorted and graded.Very often it also serves as a lift to move or remove heavy machinery parts and building materials.

A bulldozer has dual function of opening up roads and also to tow logs to the main roadsides once the trees are fell and trimmed.

The motor grader is used to maintain the road. If the road is muddy after several days of downpour, the top layer of mud is quickly removed to make the road safer.

A chainsaw operator cutting a huge tree. It is a dangerous job. He usually has to run for safety when the tree starts falling for fear of being hit by falling branches.

Freshly cut logs are being towed away to the roadside in Mujong area in Balleh, Kapit.

A logging truck transporting logs to a riverside log pond in Balleh River, above Kapit.

A fully laden truck crossing a bridge in the Murum area of upper Belaga, leaving a long trail of dust after decending from the hills.

Shovel stacking up Keruing logs in the Indonesian island of Jamaja in the South China Sea.

Aerial view of a large log pond in Tubau, Bintulu.

Keruing and Meranti logs in neat piles after being inspected and graded by buyers. They lie there waiting for shipment by barge.

Early morning at a log pond above Belaga.

In the upper Rajang River in Sarawak, the floaters are tied into rafts and towed down river to sawmills and plywood mills or to an anchorage point near the sea for export. Sinkers are usually transported by barges and small vessels.

A long raft of Meranti logs which has been debarked. This photo was taken in Barito River near Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Indonesia.

This 70 foot (width) , 270 foot (length) and 16 foot (draft) barge can carry about 4,500 m3 of logs and can ferry the logs to as far as Thai and Vietnamese ports. Bigger barge of 80'x 300'x20' can carry up to more than 8,000m3 of logs and capable to sail between Sarawak or the Solomon Islands or Papua New Guinea and south China ports.

Discharging logs from a barge at one of the sawmills near Sibu.

This pile of very nice logs(above) taken 120KM outside Tawau in east Sabah is of the Selangan Batu species.It is a very durable timber used mainly in the construction industry and also as railway sleepers.The photo below was taken at Sarawak Moulding Factory which belongs to one of Sarawak's logging giants,WTK. The background is the skyline of Sibu Town.

I believe many of you have not seen logging activities in real life. Here is a brief pictorial presentation of logging activities in the tropical rainforests in Sarawak,Sabah,kalimantan Indonesia,Jemaja Island, and Irian Jaya, Indonesia. These photos were taken during my assignments to the timber camps and sawmills between 1984-2004.Hope it is an eye-opener for those who have never landed on a timber camp.

17 comments:

cc said...

Wow, this is very interesting and informative to read! I've always wanted to know more about that! Thanks for sharing! :D

suituapui said...

When did you go and take all those photos? With your back injury?

suituapui said...

Oops! Didn't see that last bit where you mentioned the years. Old photos, I see!...

-eiling- said...

Very educational posts. I think there are many illegal logging going on too. It takes so many years in growing a tree but minutes to saw them down. The govt should really control the logging activities.

rubberseeds said...

cc:If you want more information on logging here you can always ask or write to me.

stp:haha.....my first time to a logging camp was like in 1981.Luckily still keep some of those old photos.

eiling:Have you been to a logging camp?It certainly will be an experience for you. I think illegal logging in Sarawak is very much under control now.They need to reforest the logged over areas more with the indigenous tree species instead of just totally clear the land for oil palm.

Anonymous said...

how many of young lives were taken away along these roads in the lumber camp? There must be many who died of truck accidents

Bengbeng said...

i like this post. i have always wondered wat life is like in a timber camp

rubberseeds said...

anonymous:I believe the highest occupational death/injury in Sarawak is with the logging industry. Indeed a very high price to pay.

bengbeng:Thanks bengbeng.Lucky you, never been to such risky places.

Victor Kiu said...

Nice photos!
Thanks for Sharing.
Finally i know how was the logging area looks like!!

rubberseeds said...

Hi Victor, thanks for dropping by. You have a nice blog too...just finished looking through all the photos in your blog.You certainly travel a lot. Nice and interesting pictures too. Keep it up.

jam said...

Hi, thanks for dropping by mine. You got an interesting blog too. BTW, I think logging activities in Sarawak has been excessively done and this has done damage to our environment. Just compare the color of Rejang River now and 20 years or so ago...

-eiling- said...

I haven't been to a logging camp la... How can one go?

Hardy said...

So far I only passed by the logging camp especially on my way to Song. SO far never inside the logging camp. Looks like you have been to many places.

rubberseeds said...

jam:Thanks for your comment.Exactly right, large areas had been over logged without due consideration to the environment.That's why we experience flooding so frequently now.And in the process, it creates a lot of social problems aw well.

eiling: I have friends in the logging industry in Tawau,Miri,Bintulu,Sibu,PNG, Solomon Islands Gabon,Congo,Equitorial Guinea,Guyana etc. So if you happen to be in one of these locations, I can put you in touch with them. Of course the best is you come to Sibu and have an adventure up the Rajang River to see the natives and also the logging activities.

rubberseeds said...

Hardy:Can understand that most of us usually only pass by the camps if we have nothing to do with the logging business. Certainly it is not a recommeded place for just sight-seeing or holiday.Yes, I had travelled to quite many places especially between 1997-2005. Have been to Indonesia for some 52 times!

Hardy said...

I would love to see some of your photos for the past years.

rubberseeds said...

Hardy: If you read my older posts, you will see some old photos taken in the late 70s and early 80s. Will share some more old photos in future posts.