Digitalisation and sustainability are hot issues within forestry. But what does the connection between them really look like – and how does forestry come in?
Anita Cedergren is one of many who have a positive view of the digitalisation that has taken place. She owns a number of forest properties in Småland, together with her family.
– For me, sustainability is about trying to use our resources as efficiently as possible, she says.
She points to the example of GPS-controlled machines in both agriculture and forestry.
– If you have to drive a tractor or harvester powered by fossil fuels, digitalisation means that you can plan a route that means you don’t drive one single unnecessary meter. If nothing else, that alone must be considered sustainable, Anita Cedergren continues.
Mistra Digital Forest is a programme working for precisely this. Elisabeth Nilsson is a programme board member and agrees with Anita Cedergren’s reasoning.
– A forest owner cannot survive on air and beautiful nature alone, that leads to a tough financial situation. Efficiency might sound boring, but it’s all about reducing resource consumption. Getting as much out as possible, at the same time damaging as little as possible. Spruce bark beetle is a good example. Here, with the help of digitalisation, we can act quickly and efficiently, says Elisabeth Nilsson.
Charlotte Norrman points out that even the classical forestry plan has benefited from digital solutions. In addition to being a forester, she is also a teacher at the Department for Management and Engineering at Linköping University. She believes that digital forestry plans can easily form the basis for decision-making, for everything from pest control and nature conservation to insurance issues and security solutions. She is also more than happy to use the forest as an example for her students.
– An exciting area they have looked at is a digital “plant position system”. There could be a small unit in the planting tube, that gives each plant a GPS position that is directly connected to the digital forestry plan. Then you could follow each individual tree from start to finish. That’s just one application, but there are many other possibilities, she says enthusiastically.
The work with drones is perhaps one of the clearest examples of how digital development has simplified, and helped to develop, forestry – especially for the slightly smaller forest owner. Stefan Stenbom, a forest owner who researches digitalisation and education on a daily basis at KTH, agrees.
– Every time I’m at the property, I fly the drone. I take pictures in the same places and can quickly see development and changes. Since I don’t live on the land, this has become a way for me to compensate. My grandfather walked across the land all day long, this is my way of getting to know the land to the same extent – but in a different way, he concludes.