Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

WUUDIS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 774465
Country: Finland
Domain: Food and Natural Resources

Building the next generation of smart forest management tools and practices

60 % of Europe’s forest area is owned by private individuals, many of whom live in cities without even knowing where their forest is located. At the same time many EU forests are facing various ecological threats, creating a pressing need for more effective forest management practices such as that developed by the WUUDIS project.
Building the next generation of smart forest management tools and practices
With threats such as climate change and foreign species invasion, authorities are concerned for the future of forests across Europe and so are promoting better management practices. Yet custodians currently lack effective silvicultural (forestry) management tools, including those that could streamline the timber trade.

The EU-funded WUUDIS project has brought together software developers and veteran foresters to develop a cloud-based web and mobile solution; one which is remotely controlled and functions in real-time. The tool is targeted at forest owners, contractors and timber buyers, tracking past activities as well as providing guidance on future action. It also offers automatic updates about timber conditions, such as damage caused by weather, soil erosion and diseases.

Sharing information about the forest and its timber resource

The aim of the WUUDIS project is to ensure the sustainability of the forest sector. The technology uses remote sensing images to monitor potentially vulnerable forest areas so that remedial action can be undertaken. Likewise, the solution comes with an app for both capturing actual damage caused and to report work undertaken, accompanied by supporting information such as location, pictures and videos. Additionally, a bio-diversity app allows anyone within the forest to report findings for future reference. The tool is designed to enable wide consultation across the stakeholder network to ascertain the best course of action where needed. Subsidy applications can also be administered with a single click.

Explaining the likely impact of WUUDIS, project coordinator Mr Seppo Huurinainen says, “WUUDIS is capable of revolutionising the forest industry by enabling better and more transparent forest management, remotely and in close to real time. It not only saves significant resources for forest owners but also generates revenue through the added value of the system data, such as care work frequency in an area, aggregated and visualized by the solution.”

As well as technology development, the first phase of the project concentrated on market research. An overview of market potential, competition analysis and partnership potential was conducted for each of the target markets of Spain, Italy, Belgium, France, UK and Sweden. The technical viability was assessed through the engagement of government, profit or non-profit organisations who had access to national electronic forest data, alongside GIS data gleaned from Finland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Belgium.

Developing the go-to-market strategy and commercialisation plan, revealed Spain and Italy as very attractive markets as both have abundant forest resources with policies favourable to international timber trading. It was found with Spain, that the potential customer base includes more than five million private forest owners and around 11 000 forest contractors.

However, along with this opportunity comes a significant challenge as Mr Huurinainen explains, “If we look at Finland, it is a pioneer in forest digitalisation with a target to digitalise every hectare of Finnish forest by 2020. Similar targets are not set in other EU Member States, added to which many forest management plans (FMPs) are still paper based. This is the baseline from which we have to operate, firstly, digitalising FMPs, integrate them into WUUDIS, followed by systematic implementation of the solution with forest stakeholders.”

Working against man-made climate change and for the economy

To put the need for effective forest management into context, for the wider EU economy there is almost 183 million hectares of forest and woodland across the EU28, which is 43 % of the EU’s land area (excluding lakes and large rivers) and 5 % of the world’s forests. In 2014, 20 EU Member States invested EUR 3.19 billion in forestry and logging.

Looking to the future, Mr Huurinainen summarises, “We are moving towards deployment and rapid commercialisation of our solution, initially in Spain and Italy. This will be done by organising large scale pilot projects during 2018, followed by full service delivery. Then we will expand into other countries.”

Keywords

WUUDIS, forestry, bio-diversity, silviculture, timber, climate, species invasion, woodland, digitalization, sustainability, ecosystem
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