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Forests are the lungs of our planet, so managing them well will play an important role in how successfully we limit climate change. Now, the My Sustainable Forest project is helping to optimize forest management.

My Sustainable Forest is a project promoted by the European Union (EU). The project brings together several European partners with the goal of introducing a new level of granularity to forest management.

The importance of European Forests

Forests are a cornerstone of the EU economy; 43 percent of land in the EU area is forest – a whopping 182 million hectares! In recognition of the importance of these valuable natural resources, the EU’s forest strategy focuses on eight priority areas:

  • supporting rural and urban communities.
  • fostering the competitiveness and sustainability of the EU’s forest-based Industries, bio-energy and the wider green economy.
  • protecting forests in a changing climate whilst promoting sustainable forestry management to mitigate against climate change.
  • protecting forests and enhancing ecosystem services.
  • strengthening our knowledge of the forests the EU has and how they are changing.
  • developing new and innovative forestry and added-value products.
  • working together to coherently manage and better understand forests.
  • focusing on forests from a global perspective, including the conservation of non-EU forests.

What is My Sustainable Forest?

My Sustainable Forest aims to improve forest management by giving forest managers accurate and up-to-date data about their forests. It will collate and provide Earth Observation data from satellite technology.

The platform for forest stakeholders is designed to integrate this Earth Observation into the daily operations and decision-making processes of forest stewards, using open and standard interfaces.

It will be based on the GMV prototyped service, eoForest. GMV is working with public and private European forest stakeholders: RAIZ (the R&D branch of The Navigator Company), the Croatian Forest Research Institute, Mendel University in Brno, the Forest Owners Association of Navarra and Lithuania, Syndicat des Sylviculteurs du Sud-Ouest, the European Forest Institute, and two innovative SMEs, MADERA+ and Föra. These partners will bring their LiDAR and forest-modelling expertise to the initiative.

Six different bioclimatic zones have been chosen to demonstrate the benefit of the data. This includes forests in Portugal, Spain, France, Croatia, the Czech Rep. and Lithuania, and incorporates a variety of management protocols and forest usages.

How will My Sustainable Forest work?

Satellite data, web-based analysis and other ICT tools can facilitate sustainable forestry management because they can be used to optimise operations, including thinning, clearcutting, reforestation campaigns, etc., and time and resources.

High-resolution satellite images will be collected from a variety of sources: Sentinel satellites from the Copernicus programme (promoted by the European Space Agency) aerial laser scanning (ALS) and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). This allows for a spectral information base of less than on centimeter.

Traditionally, the detailed forest inventories that offer this kind of ecologic and dasometric information are expensive and planned on a 10-year basis. This makes it very hard to use such data to plan the forests commercial or recreational activities because information is not up to date and does not reflect the rate of forest change.

With the new satellite data, forest managers will be able to monitor the forest area, the attributes of available timber, and different ecosystem services.

The hope is this will demonstrate the advantage of incorporating this information into the daily decision making, protocols and operations of the different stakeholders across the silvicultural chain.

Find out more about the My Sustainable Forest project on the European Commission’s EIP-AGRI website or on the project’s portal.

Read more about the people who manage forests in our article about the paper makers.