Jan. 21, 2020
Jan. 20, 2020
Never before has the interest in preserving natural forests and efficient management of plantations been as great as the present. Demand for wood products is increasing. On the other hand, it is also evident that the remaining forests have to be protected to maintain our quality of life—the very air we breathe depends on them. Therefore, precision management, which has been successfully tried in agriculture, is being advocated for forests as well. It is a method of management that offers new solutions for many of the existing challenges and should interest you if you are engaged in forestry, whether in the public or private sector.
Precision Forestry is the use of tools and technology to collect data to make decisions for site-specific management. It aims to improve wood quality, protect the environment, 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 understanding of ecological processes in forests, which has been accumulated in the last decade. 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:
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.
The following are economic benefits that have so far been quantified in a site in the USA:
The benefits to society overall is 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
Some other equally important uses of Precision Forestry are to protect the environment and maintain ecosystem services from forests. 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).
Figure 1: Post harvest surveys showing root rot. (Image credits: https://doi.org/10.3390/f9030102)
Large- and small- scale data can be combined with analysis for advanced decision making. For example, LiDAR data, used with NDVI field measurements from sensors, can improve the estimation of biomass accumulation.
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.Inc, who have been around for a few decades making precision tools for plant research and practitioners long before the term Precision Forestry was coined. They have the advantage of many years of experience and application, making them trustworthy.
If you are a new entrant or interested in trying it out, be assured that 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 are brought together by some new and advanced technologies now. Precision Forestry is touted as a revolution that makes intensive management of forests possible to deliver products and services.
Science Writer, CID Bio-Science
Ph.D. Ecology and Environmental Science, B.Sc Agriculture
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