Satellite images provide up-to-date information on forest resources and the amount of carbon bound by forests: a new cloud service is lending help to responsible forest management

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autumn forest from air

Information is increasingly needed on the treatment of forests and on their role as a source of raw materials, carbon sink and carbon reservoir. Together with five partners, VTT is implementing the first ever platform service to produce information on forest resources and carbon sequestration using satellite images. Using the services of the Forest Flux project, forest companies and forest owners can improve the profitability of forest management and take care of ecological sustainability. The project aims to create a service business for the forest industry and larger private and state owners of forests.

Information is increasingly needed on the treatment of forests and on their role as a source of raw materials, carbon sink and carbon reservoir. Together with five partners, VTT is implementing the first ever platform service to produce information on forest resources and carbon sequestration using satellite images. Using the services of the Forest Flux project, forest companies and forest owners can improve the profitability of forest management and take care of ecological sustainability. The project aims to create a service business for the forest industry and larger private and state owners of forests.

“Describing forest carbon sequestration is completely new, and there is a great deal of demand for this kind of information. By turning the assessment of forest resources into a product, we can make information easily available. Using the service, users can produce the maps that they want from satellite images”, says Tuomas Häme, Research Professor at VTT.

This project, belonging to the Innovation Action category of the EU's Horizon 2020 programme, is currently providing pilot services to nine customers in five countries. In the first phase of the pilot services, completed this autumn, almost 700 satellite-based digital maps with a resolution of ten metres were delivered to customers.

By utilising satellite data and the cloud service, forest owners, using their own computers, can observe changes occurring at forest plots smaller than a tennis court or, for example, examine local forest damage without making a visit to the damage site. On the other hand, the system enables, among other things, effective making of estimates related to carbon sequestration even in large forest areas and give support to the mapping out of biodiversity.

"Digitalisation is at the core of our commercial activities and sustainable forestry. Participation in the Forest Flux project with VTT plays an important role in our search for the best forest resource monitoring system for the management of our company's forest assets”, says Kimmo Kortelainen, Forest Data Manager at Tornator Forestry Company.

Simosol Oy is involved in the development of the service with VTT, the University of Helsinki, the German company UNIQUE Forestry and Land Use, the Instituto Superior de Agronomia of the University of Lisbon and the National Institute for Forest Research and Development of Marin Dracea, Romania.

"With the Forest Flux project and the associated Forestry-TEP cloud service, we can significantly increase our international business in the field of forest resource mapping and carbon assessment," says Jussi Rasinmäki, CEO of Simosol.

With a budget of approximately three million, the three-year project will end at the end of 2021. The service business related to the project will be partly started during the project.

Forest Flux project picture
Sentinel-2 satellite images from 2015, 2016 and 2017 and clear-cuttings mapped from them.
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