Clearing a Forest

I'm slowly putting together a kingdom building game with inspirations from Civ and CKII. One of the main themes and mechanics is that taming the wildnerness will actually make the world less chaotic (magic becomes more ordered instead of wild, less monsters, less fey realm incursions). Some of my players were interested in clearing out land, tearing down trees and making it more open for their kingdom. I read somewhere that clearing an acre of forest can take anywhere from 4 to 8 acres per day, so 160 days at most and 80 days minimum for clearing 640 acres (1 square mile). Seems like a long time to clear out a small area (compared to 6 mile hexes with around 15,000 acres, which would take 1,875 days!). Does that seem reasonable given medieval/early modern period tools?

I know I can simply handwave the time, but I am awfully curious about this. Thanks.

Well, the question is always one of ratios and resources. Theoretically, you could send a hundred thousand people into the hex with axes and everyone cuts down one tree and you're done in a day. You probably have less than a hundred thousand dedicated lumberjacks though, so you'll want to figure out the rate of clearage per man. The 4-8 acres per day is probably the normal clearing rate for a settlement that's just cutting down trees for normal useage. (A forest being cleared out after 5 years of being near a big town seems about right to me)

I dont have a good estimate for how many acres per day you could do, but remember that a majority of the time is going to come from clearing stumps. Unless of course they just want open fields that are basically useless for any productive activity.

I’d be inclined to find a way to phrase it as a construction project per Domains at War.

Then you could just figure out the rate of clearing based on its GP rate and the amount of labor assigned to the project.


Here's an idea for working it out:

  • We know how much work per month you can get out of a rural population in GP from land revenue, taxes and services
  • We know how much a given value of wood weighs in Stone. 

So if you can come up with an estimate for the average weight of a tree, and the average number of trees per square mile and you should be able to work out a number for how long it takes to clear the forest. 

That would be the most ACKSy way to do it - how many loads of wood exist in a particular acreage - then divide that value out by the size (and therefore wages) of your labor force. Fortunately forestry is one of those things we've been doing for a while, so I wager there's a decent guess to be made.

Here's something interesting for density:

recommendations for spacing for reforestation purposes.

There's a zillion links on estimating or directly measuring tree weights, one of them is:


[quote="Aryxymaraki"] I'd be inclined to find a way to phrase it as a construction project per Domains at War. Then you could just figure out the rate of clearing based on its GP rate and the amount of labor assigned to the project. [/quote]


I like this idea. I'm inclined to have the land value of the hex per acre dictate how long it takes to take down a forest. So, if the players want to clear a wilderness square mile (640 acres) of forest with a land value of, say. 6g, it'll cost 6g*640, or 3840g. And from there, the players can assign laborers to cut it down. I'd imagine one siege engineer as the supervisor. then 254 skilled laborers and 765 unskilled laborers would get that square mile of forest knocked out in one month. That seems reasonable I think. Here's hoping they have that population :)

Players want to do this for farm land and to reduce hiding places and habitats for monsters.

I'm actually curious about the cost and time of doing something similar with swamps. My players want to seize a tower out in a swamp hex and want to know how much time and gold it will cost them to fill in the swamp and replace it with useable farmland.


This discussion about clearing forests at least gives me some baseline ideas...

My thought is that, perhaps, one would need to re-roll for the hex's land value, though, since you're doing such a radical transformation of the hex away from its original natural resources.

I'd probably do two different construction projects. One to drain the swamp and then one to clear the forest. I probably wouldn't re-roll the land value, especially since the soil will still be really great for farming.