Use of new “intelligent” implements for the forest, robotics in forest cleaning operations, new smartphone applications, forest monitoring through optical cameras, new digital sensors and processes for data communication in forest machines. These were the main highlights of a work developed over three years by 20 entities, including companies, universities and research centers, and were presented at the event – “Digital Forest: Enter the next level”.
At this initiative held in Lisbon, rePLANT presented the work developed over three years, including four trials of different species and provenances of pine trees, several installed trials, nine technical manuals for improving forest management, two decision support systems for fire management, three new pieces of equipment, eight tested technologies and ten pilot tests, with field demonstrations on topics such as genetic improvement, fire protection and ignition detection and fire monitoring, new ways of planting forests, digitizing the value chain, and making production estimates accessible.
This collaborative project led by CoLAB ForestWISE and The Navigator Company was structured into three main areas of action – the first, dedicated to Forest and Fire Management (led by Sonae Arauco and the Instituto Superior de Agronomia of the University of Lisbon); the second, on Risk Management (under the coordination of REN – Redes Energéticas Nacionais and the University of Coimbra); and a third pillar, on Circular Economy and Value Chains (under the management of The Navigator Company and CoLAB ForestWISE).
For Carlos Fonseca, Scientific and Technological Director of CLAB ForestWISE, “rePLANT is the first major project of CLAB ForestWISE, and it is also the first collaborative dimension project for our forest. We are very proud to see that the strong involvement and commitment of the various business and academic partners in this mobilizing project has enabled the development of products and results that are aligned with the main needs of the forest and fire domains in Portugal.
José Luís Carvalho, Head of Forestry Innovation and Development at The Navigator Company, says that “with no illusions, rePLANT is still a small step for the sector, but a great hope that the seed now germinated and planted can become an active and dynamic forestry sector, based on the best technical and scientific knowledge with Portuguese roots. There will be no excellent landscapes, nor controlled risk in the forest, nor high quality forest based products exported to the world, without the collaborative effort that rePLANT represents, and that the new transForm project anticipates”.
For Nuno Calado, Manager of the Sustainability and Forestry Area, at Sonae Arauco, “The results of this collaborative project are promising and will impact the Portuguese forest in a very positive way, whether in terms of productivity, resilience or knowledge.”
For João Gaspar, Head of the Sustainable Networks and Servitudes Area at REN, “rePLANT has allowed us, together with the University of Coimbra, to give a new purpose to our energy infrastructures, which are mostly in the forest, by placing a set of surveillance cameras on our poles and managing our network, the forest and rural fires more effectively. These systems combine fire detection and monitoring and allow us to predict the behavior of the fire, through a simulator, as well as to know in real time the wind speed or air temperature,” he also pointed out.
Boosting the forest’s future
This results presentation initiative also included a round table, with the presence of António Redondo, Executive Director of The Navigator Company, João Faria Conceição, Executive Director of REN, José Ferrari Careto, Executive Director of E-REDES and José Soares de Pina, Executive Director of Altri.
Taking the results of this mobilizing project as a starting point, the round table promoted an interesting debate in which innovation and technology in forestry in the era of digital transformation, the relationship between companies and universities, the future of the forest and its contribution to the bio-economy were the main themes explored.
For the Navigator Company’s CEO, António Redondo, “it’s important to show the younger generations that forestry has a future, and rePLANt, with its technological side, based on the concept of Forest 4.0, represents this future”. He adds that, “by sharing knowledge between companies and science centers, this project also goes hand in hand with the forest-based bio-economy, which is also an important issue, not only for the forestry sector, but also for The Navigator Company”.
João Faria Conceição, Executive Director of REN, mentioned that “reducing the risk of forest fires is one of the company’s priorities, not only because REN has 66% of its infrastructure in forest areas, but essentially because of the importance of the sector for the country. We have more than 200 people working daily in the forestry sector and, from May to October, sapper teams are on the ground 24 hours a day. We believe that academia and scientific research, as well as the exchange of experiences, are critical in preventing and fighting fires, which is why we have a strong connection with the University of Coimbra, namely with Professor Xavier Viegas’ team and the Center for Forest Fire Studies, and why we joined the creation of rePLANT and the ForestWISE CoLAB”.
José Ferrari Careto, Executive Director of E-REDES, pointed out that “rePLANT allowed new approaches to support the decision making of E-REDES, regarding the management of vegetation in the surroundings of electrical infrastructures, which requires effective and safe responses, which is only possible by joining the efforts of the main agents”.
Finally, José Soares de Pina, Altri’s Executive Director, stated that “the challenges faced by modern forest management and the indispensable protection of all natural resources require the development of innovative technologies and equipment for the acquisition and analysis of information, as well as for decision-making processes. The success of the rePLANT project is certainly an important milestone for the future of forestry in Portugal”.
The Secretary of State for the Economy, Pedro Cilínio, closed the session by pointing out that “this project that we have marked today arises from the need to develop integrated, innovative solutions that promote the sustainable management of our forests. rePLANT had the power to bring a new dynamic, which has been intensified in various economic sectors, among companies”, he further reinforced.
This project lasted three years and had an investment of 5.6 million euros aimed at developing products and services that ensure the sustainable management of Portuguese forests.
In, Gazeta Rural, 2 June 2023 (PT)