Next-generation optimisation of forest data for better forest management

Next-generation optimisation of forest data for better forest management

Seppo Huurinainen, CEO of MHG Systems Oy Ltd., discusses how to combine and intelligently process satellite and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) forest data to build a next-generation forest management solution.

Wuudis Data offers a revolutionary way to improve forest health by providing tree-wise forest data.1 Forests have an immense and essential role for the survival of our society; they provide the oxygen we breathe, provide carbon sinks to mitigate climate change and prevent soil erosion. Forests also have a huge business impact. Globally, over 2 billion people rely on forests for their entire, or partial, livelihood, creating a market of $246bn (~€193.5bn) from the global export of forest-based products.

Europe’s share of this market is circa $128bn.2 Despite this huge impact, only a few, very limited solutions have been developed for sustainable forest management. MHG Systems has been taking visionary activities in this domain through its one-stop forestry solution, Wuudis, integrating multiple forest data sources to a single web and mobile application service.

How large is the forestry market in the EU?

The EU-28 has circa 182 millihectares of forest and other wooded land,3 with:

  • Sweden reporting the largest wooded area (16.8% of the total EU-28 area); followed by
  • Spain (15.2%);
  • Finland (12.7%); and
  • France (9.7%).

About 60% of the EU-28’s forests are privately owned. The growing stock of timber in forests and other wooded land in the EU-28 totalled circa 26.7 billion m3 (over bark). In 2013, the 21 EU member states invested €2.9 billion in forestry and logging, almost half of that in Sweden, Finland and Germany.

What are the current problems which have gone unaddressed?

Today, there is increasing number of remote forest owners who are relatively new in this business. They don’t know how to manage their forest property as most of the time they are working in cities and don’t have the time, resources and knowhow, to explore the economic potential of their forest assets. This is because they lack the tree-wise forest inventory details to maintain the forest property in good health.

On the other hand, forest authorities require tree-wise forest inventory details to maintain accurate national forest data and forestry companies; timber buyers equally need this data to bring more wood into the marked at the desired quality. Due to lack of tree-wise forest inventory data services, the following consequences can occur:

  • The forest owners underestimate the value of their forest asset;
  • The number of forest threats increases;
  • Forest authorities are unable to manage national forest data in an effective way;
  • Forest companies lack information about the compartment, which is of their interest to harvest; and
  • Timber buyers cannot easily find the species, or quality, their clients want.

A solution to address the EU’s needs

The solution is Wuudis Data, which incorporates integration of data from a new generation of satellites, drones, and mobile devices, both through crowdsourcing and from machines operating in the forests. This will even enable data collection for single trees.

Another future innovation will be to employ tools recently made available by remote sensing (RS), mobile and cloud technology to deposit the measured data to Wuudis Data and accessed with different user devices. The up-to-date and precise databases enable the sustainable increase of timber extraction, optimised use of raw material from trees, higher long-range growth of biomass by precise support actions and a transparent biomass supply chain.

At the same time, the costs of management, labour and timber transport can be significantly reduced. Wuudis Data will offer several new services, e.g. for timber sales and precise end-use, working and transport assignments. All of these new services will create additional economic growth.

How does Wuudis acquire data?

Wuudis Data acquires spatial data input from four main sources, namely:

  1. Sentinel-2 satellite;
  2. Images taken by drones;
  3. National forest and environment data; and
  4. User-made data collection in the forest through the Wuudis app.

Access to Sentinel-2 satellite data is open source, as well as authority data in most cases, whilst drone flights are managed by MHG Systems partners. Data integration, processing and information distribution, are performed on the Wuudis platform. MHG Systems has developed a unique methodology for data integration, analysis and its visualisation.

What value can the solution deliver to the forest sector?

The most obvious benefit that Wuudis Data can bring is cost savings in forest exploitation and improvement in forest health by avoiding forest threats. The feedback from current Wuudis users indicates a cost saving of approximately 20% in daily operations. Moreover, other impacts include enhancing the ease of daily routines, which results in operational efficiency improvement and moving from paper-based business to the smart, digital form, saving numerous work hours.

The whole forestry business is undergoing a transformation, where the focus is on using smart, digital tools. This is a good enough reason for customers to use the next-generation Wuudis Data solution.

References

    1. https://www.wuudis.com/en/forest-owners/
    2. FAO Yearbook, Forest Products, 2011
    3. Figures from 2015

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