A harvesting machine operator must get along with himself

5 May 2014

Jyri Palojärvi’s choice of career was a natural one. He has spent his entire life in forests.

Rain washes over a lone harvesting machine as it roars in a forest in central Finland. It is an impressive sight – this Ponsse Scorpion weighs over 20,000 kilos, but it is agile. It saws the tree easily, strips away the branches, cuts the logs into exact lengths and leaves them on the ground.

The man operating the machine is Jyri Palojärvi. He lives close by in Väätäiskylä in Multia in Central Finland. Now he jumps out of his kingdom to greet his guests. In his profession, visitors are rare on the site. The lone worker has a radio to keep him company in the cabin. Sometimes, very rarely, he speaks on the phone with a colleague.

“Here you can be your own boss, if you do your job well,” Palojärvi explains as he reaches the ground. “You have to get along with yourself. This applies to forestry in general. You can’t keep asking for help, and you need to solve problems yourself. Of course we have a certain amount of responsibility when working both in UPM’s forests or private estates.”

Palojärvi often has to deal with the private forest owners. He always calls the forest owner before starting work and asks how they would like the job to be handled in order to achieve the desired result.

“We have to listen to the forest owners. We work in their forest and our work has an impact on their profits. When the work is then done as well as possible, the co-operation is fluent.”

Sometimes Palojärvi functions as a middleman when the forest owners come to ask for additional work that has not been agreed upon. Palojärvi advises them to contact UPM directly.

Palojärvi grew up in a forest estate so he is used to roaming the woodlands. He also watched how harvesting should be done. That’s why the career choice felt natural. In 2006 Palojärvi began as an intern at Veljekset Lehtomäki Oy in Multia, and the work hasn’t stopped there.

“In Multia, there are plenty of job opportunities in harvesting. I knew that UPM had land in Väätäiskylä, so I wanted to become part of their harvesting team. Everything has gone according to plan.”

When the weather permits, Palojärvi pours coffee out of his thermos and sits on the steps of his machine and has a break. In those moments, he thinks about his work environment: forest animals, beautiful mornings and fresh air. The smell of traffic is something he doesn’t need to worry about while working.

Even though the operator is alone in the forest, the quality of work is carefully monitored. UPM receives a report every day covering the work done with Palojärvi’s machine. Four times a year, an inspector visits the site to check that the quality of work matches the set criteria.

Quality of work is a matter of honour to Palojärvi. As he grew up in a forest estate and followed the growth and development of forests from an early age, he has learned to recognise its value.

“The operator has a duty. He has to know when the ground is too soft so that the forest doesn’t get tramped down. For the forest owner, the forest can be very important, so I need to perform my job as well as possible.”

Janne Arola

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