Global Innovations in Sustainable Forest Management [2024]

Global Sustainable Forest Management 2022

In this blog article, we round up the best examples of innovation in sustainable forest management across the globe, with a view to how these innovations could be employed in Australia. But first, a quick summary of the need for sustainable forestry.

Trees are the lifeblood of the earth.

Almost one-third of the globe is covered in forest. Home to most of the earth’s land-dwelling flora and fauna, forests are the lifeblood of the earth. They supply water, provide livelihoods, mitigate climate change, and are essential for sustainable forest and food protection (State of Forests Report 2020 [1] ). Sustainable forest change starts with the home.

Deforestation is a global concern for climate change.

Through a process known as sequestration, trees remove carbon from the atmosphere storing it in their trunks, roots, and soil, whilst releasing oxygen, helping to balance the greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. When trees are cut, burned, or left to rot, this stored carbon is released. With deforestation and forest degradation continuing at alarming rates, this is a global concern for climate change.

As a result, the forest management industry has seen huge shifts in the way forests are managed to ensure sustainable forest practices (Valuer AI [2]).

2024 Digital Trends in Sustainable Forest Management

As digital technologies revolutionize the world, the forestry industry is no different. Core innovations include Forestry 4.0 and Zero Carbon.

Forestry 4.0, also referred to as precision forestry [3], enables the connection of devices, machines, and systems through smart networks, automating sustainable forest management and monitoring. Through smart technologies, large volumes of forest data are now generated and available for analysis. This information enables better performance, planning, and strategic decision-making.

Sustainable Forrest - Carbon Neutral
Sustainable Forrest – Carbon Neutral

Zero Carbon innovations include the generation of carbon credits to offset carbon emissions. One carbon credit is equal to one tonne of stored carbon dioxide (Treevia [4]).

Here are Our 6 Top Innovators in Sustainable Forest Management from around the world.

1. Artificial Intelligence in Forestry

CollectiveCrunch [5]  (Finland) is a leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the forestry industry. They bring a step-change to the prediction of wood inventories. Enabling forest managers to identify risks, capitalise on opportunities and improve returns via a technology platform powered by AI.

Currently available in Northern Europe only, this technology would enable State governments and large private native forest owners to better understand predicted forest inventories and carbon storage.

2. Cut to Length Technology

Ecolog [6] (Sweden) is a manufacturer of forestry machines designed for cut-to-length harvesting. These machines are developed to ensure maximum efficiency and sustainability for forestry.

Cut to length harvesting is where the trees are delimbed and cut to length directly at the stump, providing more fresh wood and less disturbance to retained trees and surrounding soil.

3. Using Residuals to Generate Renewable Energy

Conifex Timber [7] (Canada) is a paper and forest products company re-using residuals from their sawmill’s manufacturing process to generate renewable energy as well as produce sustainable wood products.

This is something we are particularly keen to ensure is happening in NSW. See our blog on how the timber industry is contributing to renewable energy here in NSW. [8]

4. Rapid Bushfire Recovery

Drone Seed [9]  (USA) offers rapid reforestation using drone technology to plant tree seed vessels after a wildfire. Removing a requirement for helicopters or nursery suppliers’ capacity, Drone Seed offers the ability to restore thousands of acres of wildfire-affected land in 30 days.

Sustainable Forest Initiatives - Drone Seed
Sustainable Forest Initiatives – Drone Seed

Currently, in a pilot program on the West Coast USA, this technology could be extremely valuable in Australia, where bushfires and natural disasters have drastically affected our native forests in recent years.

5. Using the Whole Tree

Wholetrees [10] (USA) designs and construct sustainable buildings and timber components such as trusses, carports, and playscapes using whole, unmilled trees. Inspiring the industry to utilise structural round timber as a beautiful, affordable, and durable alternative to mass market milled timber. It would be awesome to see this trend be adopted in Australia.

With beautiful native hardwood species available to us in Northern NSW, we are definitely championing more design and construction using the tree in its natural form.

6. Planting a Forest for Your Business

Imagine planting a corporate forest and gifting a tree to each of your employees.

This unique employee engagement initiative is offered by EcoMatcher [11] (Hong Kong). Connecting your team to your purpose and sustainability journey forms part of their unique value proposition.

In Australia, corporate organisations could adopt this strategy to rebuild forests in areas affected by bushfires.

Sustainable Forest Initiatives
Sustainable Forest Initiatives

In summary, there has been significant innovation in sustainable forest management in recent years. North America and Northern Europe are leading with technological advancement and digitalisation of the forestry process, providing the greatest results in terms of innovation within their own forests.

There remains a vast opportunity to learn from these leading innovators and apply these to the global stage. More than half of the world’s forests are found in only five countries (Russia, Brazil, Canada, USA, and China), so at a minimum, these innovations should be employed by each of these countries.

In Australia, the opportunity to innovate is excellent. We know our pain points, current timber shortage, and propensity for bushfires and other climate-driven natural disasters.

We know there are already innovations globally that could help us better manage our natural resources. The challenge is now on us, as leaders in private native forest management to help bring these innovations to Australia, with support from State Governments and Industry bodies such as Timber NSW. [12]

To discuss your private native forest or ask us a question about our innovative processes, get in contact with Siman today.

To learn more about our holistic approach to sustainability, visit our dedicated sustainability page.

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