Savannah Valley District

Chainsaw Use Considerations Among South Carolina’s Female Forest Landowners and Managers

Janet W. Steele, Area Extension Agent – Forestry and Wildlife

Female forest landowners are gradually increasing across the southeast as lands transition from one generation to the next or from husband to wife. As more female landowners become involved in the day-to-day operations of their property, the need for practical training on equipment such as chainsaws is increasing. However, chainsaw training programs are historically male-dominated, with only a small number of women attending. Research has shown that women are more likely to participate in technical training programs when they are gender-exclusive and include female instructors. While specific studies related to women and injuries in forest land management are difficult to find, research has been done on injuries sustained by women on farms. One study indicated that women who do less than 20 hours of work on a farm each week are less likely to wear PPE and are also less likely to attend local farm meetings, which often include safety pieces of training.

Also, women often find traditional PPE styles, designed for men, uncomfortable to wear, poor-fitting, and restrictive. Other bodily injuries were reported from physical strain due to women’s reduced upper body strength compared to men. The Grant funding from the SC Sustainable Forestry Implementation Committee (SIC) was awarded to Clemson Extension in 2021. To design and implement a program geared to female forest landowners that would provide chainsaw safety and handling training while including an opportunity for participants to learn and practice basic chainsaw cutting methods. Anyone dedicated to improving their safe use of chainsaws was welcome to attend, regardless of sex. Two workshops: were conducted in the fall of 2021 and two in the spring of 2022. Class size was limited to 6 to 8 participants, so as individual instruction as possible.

Training materials and written instructions for practical training exercises were developed to address issues specific to the use of chainsaws by females, such as the lack of information for female chainsaw operators regarding selecting proper PPEs and equipment and proper handling and maintenance. All participants learned essential chainsaw maintenance, including how to sharpen a chainsaw, which ensured that each participant understood the importance of a correctly pointed chain to reduce kickback and binding of the saw. They also learned the outcome of various cutting techniques and how to determine the safest method. Participants could conduct straight and bore cuts by the end of the workshop. Proper cutting techniques also illustrated the importance of predicting the result of each amount made with a chainsaw. Can reduce the number of tree-related injuries from being struck by any part of the tree and the number of lacerations from chainsaw kickback.

The program trained female forest landowners to be safe on their property simultaneously; operating a chainsaw allowed them to gain confidence in their land management abilities. All of the workshop participants returned evaluations, and all indicated that they had an increase in knowledge level from no knowledge or slightly knowledgeable to at least moderately or very knowledgeable on all of the topics covered by the workshop. Seventy-eight percent also indicated that they liked the option of an all-female learning environment, and the remaining 22% reported that they had no preference. For more information on chainsaw safety and training workshops and other events from the SC Women Owning Woodlands (SCWOW) program, don’t hesitate to contact Janet Steele at or 803-516-4209.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.