Operational sustainable forestry with satellite-based remote sensing (MySustainableForest)
Forests cover over 215 million ha. in Europe, 33% of Europe’s land area; 49% forests are public while 51% are privately owned by 7.8 million proprietors, in growing tendency. 87% of the European forest areas follow a semi-natural exploitation pattern while 9% are plantations. Forestry has a significant contribution to EU economy: at least 3 million employees work in the forestry sector, generating a market value of round wood of more than 18.000 mill €, which implies a 0.9% sector contribution to the GDP (FOREST EUROPE, 2015: State of Europe’s Forests https://www.foresteurope.org/docs/fullsoef2015.pdf). These facts illustrate the complex reality behind the wood and forest sector, which in many aspects should increase its competitiveness and sustainability.
MySustainableForest seeks the provision of geo-information services for integrated forest management, at pre-commercial stage, through a web service platform. Services combine in-situ data, satellite images from Copernicus satellite missions and other, LIDAR, airborne data and sound wave wood quality data. Services address issues beyond wood production and industrial transformation, such as : forest conservation, needs and requirements relative to climate change adaptation measurements, guidelines for national forests plans, national reporting obligations to the EU, biomass and CO2 stock counts, long lasting drought impacts, rising public awareness with reference to these new technologies in the wood sector. These issues are part of the demonstration cases in Portugal, Spain, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, across Atlantic, Mediterranean and continental forest types.
MySustainableForest begun in November 2017 and will last 36 months until October 2021. Objectives are framed by key EU policies, namely the EU Forest Policy, the EU Innovation Policy and the EU Space Policy and its flagship EO programme Copernicus. MySustainableForest leverages upon the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS), namely on Sentinel Missions data, LIDAR, airborne data, sound wave wood quality data and on heterogeneous local data sets provided by users.
What are the project goals? MySustainableForest seeks integrating satellite data significantly further across the silvicultural chain into the wood-industry realm. Deriving meaningful thematic information on forests and wood quality from satellites, Lidar or sound waves is not trivial. MySustainableForest envisages challenging technological, commercial, societal and political objectives:
- Support forest managers with site geoinformation products derived from satellite, Lidar, meteorological and in-situ data, together with customised forestry models
- Provide the products in an easy-to-access manner through a web based platform
- Demonstrate the quality, usability and cost-benefits of products across the large wood stakeholder’s community in Europe.
- Raise up recommendations for policy makers in support EU forest owners and wood transformation industries
What will the project produce and provide? MySustainableForest has analysed the wood sector end user requirements with reference to EO technologies that will ease management and add value to wood market products. Six geo-information services shall be generated relative to site and wood quality characterisation, biomass and CO2 stocking, forest health, vulnerabilities and socioeconomic accounting of forests and wood resources. Services are:
- Forest Site Characterization
- Wood Characterization
- Biomass and CO2 stocking
- Forest Condition
- Ecosystem vulnerabilities
- Socioeconomic Functions and Conditions
Some of the problems Stakeholders face are out-dated forest inventories, generally updated every 10 years, or uneven wood quality stocks entering the transformation industries, or degraded forest infrastructures to access the raw material. Since forest ecosystems and wood production-based value chains are complex, the EO services gather 46 geoinformation products, each being an independent and complete component of a service. Some products of the portfolio are: forest mask, stand delineation, site index, wood density ranking and stiffness, above ground biomass, habitat fragmentation, soil erosion, infrastructures, physical wood accounts.
How will services be provided? Products are obtained through a web platform that queries modular processing components such as LIDAR models, satellite models, wood quality models and socio-economic models. More and more, citizens at large are accustomed to web services, many of which are accessible through mobile devices. MySustainableForest services seek to be easily accessible, from the request to the site specifications, if any, to the provision of local site data if needed to the final geo-product.
What will the end users get? In most cases, the end user will get a map, printable or interactive, with the processed thematic data requested, for instance the stands height or the condition of forest infrastructures or the damage caused by a wind storm or the wood quality parameters on fibre stiffness. In other cases, the end user shall get statistical results and reports.
Who provides the services? The value added IT companies of MySustainableForest consortium shall produce and provide the services. Specifically:
- GMV shall provide satellite based product;
- Föra shall provide LIDAR based products;
- MADERA+ shall provide wood quality products;
- EFI shall provide the socioeconomic analytical products.
Who shall test services quality? Some project partners are forest stakeholders, representing forest owners associations, transformation industries, research centres or national forest policy centres. Specifically, the following partners will test and validate the products:
- RAIZ, large industrial wood producer and pulp transformer, shall validate products for Portugal, in the context of Mediterranean forests and eucalypt plantations
- CNPF, the French National Center of Forest Proprietors, shall validate products for France, in the context of Atlantic and Mediterranean forests
- CFRI, the Croatian Forest Institute that handles the National Forest Policy shall validate the products for Croatia in the context of Mediterranean and waterlogged forests
- FORESNA, the forest owners association of Navarre shall validate the products in Navarre, a strategic context that gathers Mediterranean, Atlantic and continental forests.
- UFE, the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology of the Mendel University in Brno shall validate the products for the Czech Republic in the context of continental forests
- FOAL, the Forest Owners Association of Lithuania shall validate the products for Lithuania in the context of continental forests
What are the innovative aspects of the services? The innovation goals are double-fold: first, the technological implementation of the operational service and second the scientific quality of the products which will in turn make wood production and transformation more competitive and sustainable. The innovation shall be stressed in the following components:
- The web service platform architecture for processing products automatically from the various producers
- The refined product algorithms, ensemble in the processing module of the platform
Who can request MySustainableForest EO based forest Services? Any forest manager or wood transformation stakeholder: forest managers, proprietors, sawmills, plantation managers, pulp producers, industrial timber producers, chemical-wood industries, policy makers, statistical offices.
Any agent involved in the following forest related subjects can request MySustainableForest Services: Sustainable forest management, protective functions, forest damage, health and vitality, age and condition, biotic agents; biological biodiversity and forest fragmentation; monitoring systems and climate change adaptation; recreation, leisure and tourism; forest policy, forest management plans; protection of water and soil ecosystems; productive functions of forests, felling, roundwood, non-wood forest goods; mapping and landscape architecture; environmental protection and impact assessment, biomass stock and carbon sequestration, forest related labour force, labour risks and employment; rural employment sustainability; wood import-export; renewable energy targets; cultural heritage; cross-sectoral cooperation; innovation and technological development; forest education and professional training.