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Operational sustainable forestry with satellite-based remote sensing

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MySustainableForest (Operational sustainable forestry with satellite-based remote sensing)

Berichtszeitraum: 2019-05-01 bis 2020-10-31

Forests cover over 215 million ha in Europe, that is 33% of the surface, although unevenly distributed; 44% forests are public while 56% are privately owned by 7.8 million proprietors. 87% of the European forest areas follow a semi-natural exploitation pattern while 9% are plantations. Forestry has a significant contribution to EU economy: at least 3 million employees work in the forestry sector, generating a market value of round wood of more than 18,000 mEuro, 0.9% of the GDP. All these facts illustrate the complex reality behind the wood and forest sector.

MySustainableForest project has run from November 2017 to October 2020. Objectives were framed by key EU policies, namely the EU Forest Policy, the EU Innovation Policy and the EU Space Policy and its flagship EO programme Copernicus. In 2019, ambitious key EU publications and policies were launched such as the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for 2030; the Vision 2040 of the European forest-based sector; the Forest-based Industries 2050; the European Green Deal Strategy, and the European Digital Strategy. The results of MySustainableForest are also aligned with the Destination Earth initiative.

MySustainableForest goals pushed forward the use of remote sensing data across the silvicultural chain into the forest management and wood-industry realm. Deriving meaningful thematic information on forests and wood quality from satellites, LiDAR or sound waves is not trivial. MySustainableForest has faced challenging technological, commercial, societal and administrative objectives.

MySustainableForest analysed the forest sector End-User requirements with reference to EO technologies, to facilitate specific tasks during the silvicultural cycle and, eventually, to add value to wood market products. Six services have been generated relative to forest site and wood quality characterization, volume, biomass and CO2 stocking, forest health, ecosystem vulnerabilities and forestry accounting. Likewise, the said services gather 21 geoinformation products, each being an independent and a complete component of a service.

The innovation goals have proved to be double-fold: first, the technological implementation of the operational service and second the scientific quality of the products which will in turn make wood production and transformation more competitive. The innovation is stressed in the following components: (1) the web service platform architecture for processing products automatically from the various producers. (2) the refined product algorithms, ensemble in the processing module of the platform.
MySustainableForest services were developed in four phases: In the Early Service Readiness phase (M1-M13), a large number of user requirements (508) were gathered and analysed to define the products development.
During the Enhanced (M14-M22), and mid-period of the Advanced Service Readiness phase (M23-M30), the final portfolio of services and products was achieved. Over several iterations, these were developed, tested and refined in terms of accuracy and validation results, data availability and market demand. Through data provided by Copernicus Sentinel and Landsat satellites, LIDAR solutions, socio-economic and wood quality models.
On Routine Operations period (M31-M36), validation process followed the next structure: (1) Stakeholders’ external product validation per AOI (2) Stakeholders’ services validation and (3) Producers’ internal-independent validation. Another key result is MySustainableForest service platform. The platform is the on-line tool for users to request products, share in-situ data, point the area of interest, process bulky data, visualise in a GIS viewer the final products and download them. The platform is hosted on a hybrid public/private cloud infrastructure for enhanced secured data protection. On the final stretch of the project, highlights were the completion of the exploitation and business plan, the product roadmap, analysing the needs under global change and opportunities for MSF and finally, the adaptation of the planned physical meeting to online webinars.

Progress and results were shared through different channels. The most important dissemination and communication results are:
• 32 publications: 15 peer-reviewed scientific papers (9 open access), 12 publications on conference proceedings, 4 magazine news and 1 thesis. New publications are on the pipeline
• 333 commercial contacts on our database
• 6 User Guides, 2 tutorial videos
• 1 activity jointly organised EU Green Week 2020
• 5 participations in international summits and fairs (e.g. LIGNA)
• 8 newsletters
• +190,000 social media hits
The forestry sector plays a paramount role in achieving a modern, competitive, and climate-neutral economy by 2050. MySustainableForest has developed cutting-edge EO-based solutions for improving sustainable forest management and conservation. These solutions have a growing commercial potential in supporting the forestry sector, in facing future policy changes and mitigating the impacts of global megatrend. The most promising outcome of the project is the digital platform that provides accurate and up-to-date information to support sustainable forest management decision-making throughout the entire work cycle, from planning to monitoring operations. These innovations are aligned with the objectives of the EU Forest Policy, the EU Innovation Policy and the EU Space Policy and its flagship Earth observation programme, Copernicus.

MySustainableForest portfolio future roadmap has been assessed, showcasing strengths and limitations of the six services developed and highlighting future key action areas. We showcased strategic opportunities for MSF services with respect to the several megatrends identified by the EEA. Through this assessment we were able to map a series of commercial opportunities for the MSF portfolio including: (i) Integrating EO data for harvesting and logistic operations and forest certification schemes; (ii) taking advantage of the evolution of the Copernicus services providing timely data on the forest world biomass; (iii) Integrating EO data with crowdsourced information and sensors to support forest operators in invasive species management, forest inventory monitoring and analysis, land use and recreation, wildfire monitoring, water-soil-forest nexus; (iv) integrating EO-based forestry and climate products to support the forestry sector in halting the loss and degradations of forests.

The results from this assessment indicate a clear role of EO-based solutions in supporting the faceted aspects of forest management to meet global economic and social changes in light of current policy evolutions. Sectorial policy targets and global economic and social changes can thus be gateways for deploying innovative strategic opportunities for MSF services for the forestry sector over the next few decades.

MySustainableForest services and products provide support to the end-user for integrating existing EO knowledge, capabilities of digital image processing, automatic algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, probabilistic information, predictive wood quality models and Forestry Science with the aim of predicting parameters applicable to forestry. MSF have gather knowledge of which decisions are vital to forest operations and the extent to which decisions in these operations can be based on MSF products.
MSF in numbers WP2
MSF in numbers WP6, part 1 Dissemination
MSF interviews - stakeholders
MSF presentation in Forest Modelling Congress in Solsona 2019
MSF project wrap-up
MSF in numbers WP3
MSF visual identity in comms (call for registrations)
MSF in numbers WP5
MSF review meeting - Portugal
MSF in numbers WP6, part 2 Exploitation
MSF EU Green Week 2020 promo
MSF in numbers WP1
MSF in numbers WP4