rePLANT project, which aims to use new technologies and create services in the areas of integrated forest and fire management, has an investment of 5.6 million euros and it will be launched today.
Talking to Lusa, Carlos Fonseca, CTO’s ForestWISE, which will manage rePLANt with The Navigator Company, said that this project has a national approach and will “make all the difference in the forestry sector”.
rePLANt, supported by Compete Portugal 2020, through the POCI and Lisbon 2020 programs, brings together 20 entities and involves more than 70 researchers and specialized technicians, being developed by June 2023.
It is divided in three major areas of action and integrates initiatives such as forest monitoring through optical cameras, the development of new sustainable forest management models for the main Portuguese forest species or the use of robotics in forest operations.
“This project in the framework of mobilizing programs is a unique opportunity to create baseligns for the transformation needed in the forestry sector,” said the scientific and technological director.
According to Carlos Fonseca, one of its strengths is the possibility of put together many entities, the union of great companies with relevance in the forestry sector with companies in the energy and technological areas, joined with the Academy and knowledge to define best strategies for this transformation.
“We are talking about the valorization of the rural world, one of the central themes of our country, and we are also talking about adding value to people and the landscape, which is very relevant for other activities such as tourism,” he said.
rePLANt can, according to Carlos Fonseca, be a starting point for transformation “in favor of a more sustainable forest, in line with what future generations will be”. The multidisciplinary consortium assembled by ForestWISE will implement eight strategies, structured in industrial research activities of three major sectors: forest and fire management (led by Sonae Arauco and Instituto Superior de Agronomia), risk management (REN and University of Coimbra), and circular economics and value chains (The Navigator Company and ForestWISE).
“Forest and fire management work line, aims to investigate new models, to investigate the pine tree, one of the most common species in our country, which needs a more specific analysis”, he said.
This line, he added, will rely with direct involvement of forest owners and their organizations, obtaining information that allows to know better the forest they are managing.
“In the second work line, Risk management, aims to create monitoring systems to forest surveillance through the installation of optical cameras on REN’s power lines and which will allow us to obtain real, meteorological and vegetation information, vegetation growth, but it can also provide information on the behavior of the fire and even a decision support about fire extinction “, said the representative.
Finally, the Circular economy and value chains work line is dedicated to the use of technologies to bring added value to biomass.
“Of course it is used for different purposes, but it has high operation costs and forest removal, and there’s a whole process involving technology and automation in order to reduce operations costs,” he said.
Carlos Fonseca also said that the project will have an impact in all regions of the country, but main pilot areas are focused where are largest forest spots: North and Center.
Neverthemore, the estimated impacts are at a national level and it is expected that technologies applied and management models can be exported to other countries, including the Mediterranean basin, with similar characteristics to Portugal.
About the results, Carlos Fonseca pointed to a medium/long term.
“I believe that the forest will have results at medium, long term. This is to future generations, not for immediate results. We are creating base lines to for forest transformation, to achieve a better and more sustainable forest, bringing wealth to territories and forest owners”, he concluded.
In RTP, 23 março 2021.