I recently acquired a 7 acre plot, half of which is cleared, and half rolling and wooded, but logged about 4 or 5 years ago. Typically, logging here (Southern Indiana), can be pretty ugly, with everything but the trunks of the trees left where they fall. There is also quite a bit of damage to some of the remaining trees due to carelessness in removing the logs from the woods. The bad news is the woods looks really "hurt", the good news is that I have a huge amount of raw material on the floor of the woods to work with. I have access to a chipper. My thoughts are to establish a contour at the base on one of the rolling hills, then place the larger sawn wood along this contour. This can be done with minimal transporting of the wood. It seems like there would be enough larger pieces to make a base 2 logs deep and one on top of these. I plan to lay these tight and stagger the joints to inhibit water flow, but without digging into the forest floor. This would create a structure of wood roughly somewhat over a foot wide and a foot tall, running on the contour of the land. I will then chip up all of the smaller branches and place on top of the wood, with any other biomass I can come up with local to the site.
I understand that this is not truly hugelkultur since I am following all the step and using all the ingredients. If I leave things as they are now, the downed tops will host a lot of brambles etc. which will make for an impenetrable area (I've got some of this happening in a different part of the woods). It seems like doing what I've described will somewhat mimic what the forest would do anyway, but concentrating the material in a "berm" that will eventually rot. It will free up larger areas of the forest for planting some food forest plants.
What are the downsides of what I'm contemplating? What would be some higher and better uses for this material?
i recently helped clear a property for someone that was all overgrown brush(fire hazard and waste of space). the normal mindset is to pile it up and burn it. instead we chop and dropped everything(sort of like how you described) but instead of leaving it, the next stage is to say take say 10ft contour lines(or more depending on the size of the area you are doing) and take the top 5ft half and pull it down to mid contour, then bring the bottom half up to complete the debris swale. what you will end up with is somewhat hugel looking things on contour. the rest of the area will be clear to walk and work easier from here on out. from here you can just leave it be, cover with soil and mulch, or dig a swale above or below and bury the material.
sometimes if there are pieces too long it helps to cut them into shorter segments, this helps you get more even and manageable " debris swales"
this way you don't have to move any material farther than 3-5 ft.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
part of our woods was "pulped" when we bought the property, and the same type of situation was here, trunks taken, large Maples stolen or damaged, tops in piles everywhere, and very difficult to even walk through without falling, climbing over piles..etc.
It ruined the morel production on the property and made a total mess of it, animals were scarce for a while.
We had no way to clean it up at that time (40 years ago) and so we had to just let it go..eventually most of the trees rotted down to a spongy mulchy soily stuff, with lots of mounds and pits, still hard to get through, one area deep in our woods basically died..there is only one large tree in the center of an open area that filled up with taller grasses of some type, and it is wet there .
I am just now able to start clearing trails through the woods there, in the last couple of years. Ours were aspen, alder, maple, oak, wild cherry, and ash mostly..willows in the really wet areas. The aspens were all they were supposed to cut, but that wasn't what happened they stole nearly every hardwood on the property.
When we purchased it, it was a total disaster.
I hope you are able to find a way to work this out, but the branches will rot if you aren't able, ours has regrown all but the one bare spot with full grown aspens, oaks, maples, wild cherries, alders and ash, but now the ash are dying from emerald ash borer so we'll be cutting those for firewood and replanting the openings with fruit and nut trees, there is one self seedapple in about 200' from the south edge of the woods, but doesn't bear well as it is too crowded and shaded..so will clear a bit around that too.
Bloom where you are planted.
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association