Information has always been at the heart of the forest managers job – knowledge of stand age, tree species, fire and storm damage, pest and disease and logging costs have all been essential for profitable forest management for decades.
What is different now? The technology available for collecting, analyzing and presenting this information, with emphasis on the frequency at which this information can be gathered.
Most commercial forestry organizations need three types of information – information for strategic planning and analysis, information for short and medium-term planning, and information for operational management and control.
A forestry agency that does not have up-to-date data about its forests will struggle to make the most effective and strategic decisions. This includes detailed information on forest boundaries, species, mensuration and the location and condition of infrastructure. Increasingly non-timber information such as recreation potential and the condition of wildlife habitat is also becoming important for strategic planning. Climate change is also a headline priority with issues such as carbon loss becoming an important consideration.
From a strategic perspective, forestry organizations also require information not only for their own forests but also for the forests of competing and client organizations, or those on which they depend for raw materials. Technology is now firmly and irreversibly part of forest management. Finding innovative approaches to forest management and distilling these into competitive business models are fast becoming business advantages. Forest managers need to understand the strategic and tactical implications of technologies such as satellite data analytics, landscape intelligence that provides essential data for business imperatives such as species mapping, mensuration, accessing the severity of fire damage, identifying the prevalence of pest and disease, as well as mill logistics optimization.
Tolko Case Study
Rezatec, in partnership with forest management consultants, Forsite, and with support from the Government of Saskatchewan, has provided Tolko with deployments of its state-of-the-art and highly accurate forest inventory and disturbance monitoring solutions across an area of forest in central Canada.
By using satellite data combined with machine learning techniques, Rezatec identified the presence and distribution of tree species, as well as calculate volumetric measurements such as tree height and mensuration. Due to the unique capabilities of satellite data, this can be conducted across very large areas and repeated regularly, to provide accurate, up-to-date inventory data and monitor changes over time.
As a result, Tolko is now able to take a more data-driven and informed approach to harvesting and road planning.
“We are really pleased with the results of this pilot and the capabilities that satellite data and Rezatec have demonstrated especially around scalability and frequency of updates,” Michelle Young, Woodlands Manager, Tolko.
This kind of information changes the game. How do you think this kind of knowledge would contribute to increased profitability in your agency? No longer having to rely on 5 or 10-year-old data, but instead having access to up-to-date data from the current season, would introduce more immediate information into the decision-making process, allowing for increased agility and more opportunities for tactical planning.
The impact of globalization has forced forest owners to seek new forms of competitive advantage. This has resulted in expanded business opportunities, resulting in competitive advantages and improved business performance. This has largely come from increased access to up-to-date information.
New Forest Case Study
New Forests, a sustainable forest investment manager, has also used Rezatec’s satellite data analytics to deliver a cost-effective forest inventory to support its US investments in natural climate solutions.
New Forests engaged Rezatec to see if it could produce a comprehensive forest inventory more efficiently than the current method of conducting field-based survey. Through the analysis of satellite imagery, Rezatec provided New Forests with a sampling protocol to inform the field survey, enabling them to optimise the deployment of field crews, sending them to exact survey locations thereby reducing the need for a large sampling size, whilst ensuring complete representative sampling.
Using the field data collected, together with satellite imagery processed through Rezatec’s AI algorithms, Rezatec produced a detailed final inventory reporting species and volume information as well as above-ground carbon estimates for the entire forest.
The high-quality data and information also contribute to the development of detailed management plans for forests and carbon projects, creating efficiencies that build on initial due diligence work.
“New Forests requires accurate and precise forest inventory to quantify climate benefits from managing forests sustainably. Rezatec’s platform provided improved efficiency in field data collection, resulting in timely, accurate and spatially resolved results that met our due diligence and business development needs,” Peter Tittmann, Manager of Investment Analytics for New Forests in San Francisco.
In forestry, we know the stakes are high… Apart from a few exceptions, trees grow relatively slowly compared with other crops, timber harvests are infrequent and forest product prices face global competition. Added to this, due to the long-term nature of forest management, the risk of investment can be a major deterrent to potential investors, making the challenge of producing a profit from forest management a daunting task.
New technologies, delivering invaluable information will decide which forestry companies prosper in a world that is now demanding up-to-the-minute information.
They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but new technologies could change that for those pioneers brave enough to embrace the coming technological advances.