May 11, 2021
May 3, 2021
Precision forestry uses advanced systems of data collection and analysis to allow site-specific management of forests. This new approach to forestry is being used to replace the traditional system that has remained unchanged for nearly three centuries. It is relevant for managing monoculture plantations and semi-natural forests for the production of goods, such as wood and biomass production, as well as for forest conservation. Precision forestry can provide solutions to new challenges, like increased forest fires and logging and decreasing availability of skilled labor in the field. As a scalable technology, it is being used by private individuals, organizations, and national governments.
[Updated: March 2021]
Precision management, which has been successfully used in agriculture, is being advocated for forests as well.
Precision forestry is the use of tools and technology to collect data that is analyzed by artificial intelligence and machine learning software to provide insights, which people then use to make decisions for site-specific management. It aims to improve wood quality, decrease illegal logging and deforestation, reduce waste, and increase profits.
It can be used in all phases of forestry, such as planning, site operations, monitoring, processing, and marketing.
Precision forestry takes advantage of the deep understanding of ecological processes in forests, which has been accumulated throughout recent decades. Instead of following a single plan for the entire area, accurate data and advanced analytics can optimize and fine-tune management decisions to suit site conditions, such as soil type and fertility, slope, etc. This can ensure the following:
Demand for wood products is increasing. On the other hand, it is also evident that the remaining forests must be protected to maintain our quality of life—the very air we breathe depends on them.
Efficient and intensive forest management is becoming increasingly important as it is not possible in most countries to increase the area under forests or plantations. Precision forestry offers a way of decreasing costs and increasing production.
Precision forestry has the following economic benefits:
Other benefits of precision forestry include a reduction in -
Precision management is important for both economical and ecological reasons.
The industries that can benefit from precision forestry are those that deal in wood and biomass products, such as pulp and paper, timber for furniture and houses, and wood as an energy source for cooking and heating. Stakeholders in the wood supply chain who can benefit from precision forestry are
As shown in Figure 2, these industries are using data from precision forestry to gain inventory and logistics management insights, such as the following:
Some other equally important uses of precision forestry are to protect the environment and maintain ecosystem services from forests. This has become more important due to the increasing amount of forest fires caused by cilmate change. So, public and private organizations involved in natural forest conservations are also interested in this new forestry method for -
Many but not all the technologies used in precision forestry are associated with remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning systems (GPS).
The application of precision forestry may have just begun, but it has already seen wide adoption. It is estimated to be worth USD 3.9 billion in 2019, according to Bloomberg, and is expected to see an annual growth of 9% by 2024.
The number of companies that provide technology relevant for precision forestry is also increasing.
However, there are some companies, such as CID Bio-Science, who have been making precision tools for plant research for decades, long before the term precision forestry was coined. They have the advantage of many years of experience and real-world application, allowing them to seamlessly apply technology throughout forestry systems.
Precision forestry has been tried and tested. Some of its technology, like the variable rate application of chemicals, has been adopted from precision agriculture. Other aspects, like remote sensing, have also been used for decades. These various techniques continue to be brought together by further technological advancements, allowing even greater adoption throughout the industry. Whether applied in conservation or product delivery, precision forestry is a revolution in intensive management.
Science Writer, CID Bio-Science
Ph.D. Ecology and Environmental Science, B.Sc Agriculture
Feature image courtesy of Steven Kamenar
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