rePLANT shows how technology can add value to the forest, Vida Rural

6 de June de 2023

The rePLANT collaborative project developed, over three years, the 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 forestry machines.

As explained in a press release, in all, four trials of different species and provenances of pine trees were performed, several trials installed, nine technical manuals for improving forest management, two decision support systems in fire management, three new equipment, eight technologies tested and ten pilot tests.

There were 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.

The project led by CoLAB ForestWISE and The Navigator Company was structured into three main areas of activity:

1. Forest and Fire Management – led by Sonae Arauco and the Higher Institute of Agronomy of the University of Lisbon;
2.Risk Management – under the coordination of REN – Redes Energéticas Nacionais and the University of Coimbra;
3.Circular Economy and Value Chains – under management of The Navigator Company and CoLAB ForestWISE.

“rePLANT is the first major project of the CoLAB ForestWISE, and 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,” explains Carlos Fonseca, scientific and technological director of CoLAB ForestWISE.

José Luís Carvalho, in charge of Forestry Innovation and Development at The Navigator Company, said 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”.

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.

The importance of digital transformation for forestry and rePLANT

The presentation of results 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.

For the executive director of The Navigator Company, António Redondo, “it is important to show the younger generations that the forest has a future, and rePLANt, with its technological aspect, based on the concept of Forest 4.0, represents this future”.

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 66% of REN’s infrastructure is 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.

In turn, 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”.

In, Vida Rural, 5 June 2023 (PT)