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I had told dwarves to cut down trees in an area a good distance away from my base, across a river. After doing so they left the wood lying about where the trees had been, despite the fact that my wood stockpile was empty. I even tried creating another stockpile nearby to see if they brought the wood to that.

Things I've checked

  • I do have dwarves with the wood hauling labour enabled.
  • The area is accessible
  • I have not told dwarves to stay within any burrows, or created any for that matter.
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Do you have idle dwarves with wood hauling enabled? – Stuart Pegg Mar 22 '11 at 21:03
@Stuart: Yes I do. – Macha Mar 22 '11 at 21:05
reads question properly Sorry. – Stuart Pegg Mar 22 '11 at 21:11
Do you have more tasks than dwarves? – Raven Dreamer Mar 23 '11 at 0:13
Haulers available? Stockpile inside burrows? Stockpile full? Stockpile settings correct? Sweat demon nearby? Questions about this game are so hard to answer... – authenticgeek May 24 '13 at 19:40
up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is one possible reason not mentioned above. In your dwarves' standing orders is an option disable all wood-hauling. The standing orders are where you can change settings like telling your dwarves whether to gather refuse, whether to auto-loom thread into cloth and so on.

o to get into the standing orders screen, then w to toggle wood-hauling on or off.

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The hint that allows us to answer this question is that your dwarfs are specifically ignoring wood, rather than some other resource. You should check the orders menu. One of the orders available determines whether dwarfs bother stockpiling wood at all, so make sure that's set to "yes, they should." There may also be a setting in the orders-Forbid orders submenu causing everything produced outside to be automatically forbidden. I can't remember if there is such a setting (and I can't find it on the wiki), but if there is, it would affect wood and goblinite more than anything else.

A second cause has to do with individual labors. Wood has its own hauling labor category. All dwarfs start by default with all hauling labors turned on, but it's possible that in your zeal to keep dwarfs on task rather than pointlessly moving things around the fortress, you've inadvertently turned wood hauling off on all of your dwarfs. You can check this by viewing a dwarf, and going to preferences-labor, opening the Hauling submenu (with numpad +/-/Enter), and checking what is turned on or off. If you're using Dwarf Therapist (which you should!), the hauling labors are all pretty far off to the right of each row; make sure at least someone has most of them activated. Developed fortresses tend to require a lot of hauling, so it might be a good idea to set some of those useless unskilled Peasant immigrants to the "Mover of Things" job.

Another possible cause has to do with burrows. Wood, unlike most other resources, is usually found outside. If most of the dwarfs are not allowed to go outside, then they won't be able to collect the wood. The few dwarfs who are allowed to go outside (the woodcutters themselves) will eventually get around to it, but probably not until they run out of trees they've been told to murder. But if you're new to the game, you probably haven't been mucking around with burrows yet.

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Also, make sure that the gather wood labor hasn't somehow been turned off for all dwarves. Hard to do accidentally (without a tool like Dwarf Therapist), but I've turned it off on each dwarf on purpose before and simply forgotten. – SevenSidedDie May 24 '13 at 20:15
@SevenSidedDie Ah, yes, didn't think of that. I'll add it to the answer. – Paul Z May 24 '13 at 20:22

Thing that worked for me was simply to remove wood storage area and designate new one. 20+ dwarves rushed then immediately to pick up the wood ;-)

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The most likely problem is that they're just too busy. Cutting down the tree and hauling the wood aren't associated, so they may decide to take another task in between. They'll get to it eventually.

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This worked for me (kind of). Mark all of the logs to be dumped. Once they've been placed in a dump reclaim them. The dwarves (some of them) will go start collecting them (most of the logs).

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I had that problem too, and then I realized I simply didn't have a wood stockpile. If you have wood gathering enabled, they won't gather unless they have somewhere to put it. So you have to go and create a wood stockpile, and they will gather it and put the wood in the stockpile.

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