Towards automated forest information service

We wrote an article to our blog inspired by the theme of current forest information collection and about where the forest information service would allow the current and new technology to go in the near future.

The state authority responsible for promoting forestry and good care of nation’s forest resources in Finland does an inventory of forests once every ten years. Between inventories the information is aimed to be updated with different methods, so that the forest owners and other operators would have accurate information as much as possible. Remote sensing-based forest inventory is based on laser scanning and aerial photography data, as well as from the area to be inventoried to the local plot data measured. Collecting the expensive data of the area statistics is necessary in order to generalize the ids to be measured from the calculation models to the pattern level.

Laser scanning produces reasonably accurate information about the growing stock of the total volume and the main tree species. However, laser scanning does not provide reliable information on seedlings or unevenly growing forests.

In addition, different service providers are offering traditional forestry plans for approximately 15 euro per hectare. The traditional forest management plans are hoped to activate the forest owners to invest in their forest property and to take care of it. After all, a well made forestry plan can provide a relatively accurate picture of the forest assets, treatment needs and income. However, only 10 percent of the forest owners understand the assets of their forest values in Finland, according to the recent study!

Satellites and drones to help with the control and automated production of forest information

The European Union has invested in the construction of SENTINEL satellite system. Almost 10 billion euros of the tax money of the EU citizens is being used for the building of the satellite system. Finland has also gotten its first satellites into space. Drones have also been used to do inventory of the single trees and to photograph the forests that are for sale.

For the time being, in the largest Big Data project implemented in Europe, DataBio, we have developed monitoring and inventory services for Sentinel and commercial satellite imagery, as well as with drones and multi / hyper spectral cameras. These satellites as well as the drone-based services are now available to be purchased and delivered globally.

Next, we are investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the horizon we are hoping to produce a single tree information, which can be automated and therefore provide a more cost-effective way to upgrade the information to the authorities, forest owners and other operators – almost in a timely matter!

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