When the current government started 2015, they decided to invest R&D money on some pre-selected topics. Forest information and digital services based on them was allocated 13 million euros for three years.
National Forest Inventory of Finland started almost 100 years ago. The three Nordic countries, Sweden, Norway and Finland, were the first three countries in the whole world to carry out a nation-wide forest inventory. Now, Finnish NFI team is exporting know-how on forest inventory to developing countries. While the scope of the inventory has broadened over time, the most important goal is to ensure sustainable use of forest resources. Finnish NFI was also pioneering in the utilization of satellite images in forest inventory.
National Forest Inventory of Finland started almost 100 years ago.
State has also funded stand-level data collection (carried out by Forestry Centres) in private forests regionally since 1970’s. This data was seen as a means of promoting timber trade and forest improvement. In recent years, airborne laser scanning technique has been used for data collection. Thus, Finland has very strong traditions in forest information. Possibilities of remote sensing have been utilized as soon as they have been available.
Why is forest information seen worthy of a large new investment just now?
The answer is in the bioeconomy. Wall-to-wall forest information helps forest owners to better utilize their forest resources. Forest industry needs information on the forest resources for marketing their services to forest owners; on the soil quality and water/snow condition for planning the logging and transportation; on the log size distribution and quality for selecting the proper end use for the logs of a specific stand and so on. Better information is assumed to improve the efficiency of forest operations and also increase the value of the end products. In addition, forest administration needs up-to-date information on forest harvesting operations for controlling whether all harvests are allowed under the current Forest Act. Forest information is seen as profitable investment for the whole sector. Improving its availability and usability with internet-based solutions is also of paramount importance.
Wall-to-wall forest information helps forest owners to better utilize their forest resources.
National Forest Inventory does not directly help in these everyday decisions. Yet, government is also funding the development of NFI. Currently the national goal is to increase the annual harvests by 15 million cubic meters, and therefore accurate information on the sustainability of the use of forest resources is needed more than ever. Forest industry also needs to know if there are enough forest resources available for new investments, and where such resources can be found. The information needs are constantly increasing, and therefore also the NFI needs to change. To be able to produce information for all current and future information needs cost-efficiently, NFI relies more and more on remote sensing and digital measurements. The government funding also allows us in future to provide up-to-date results on-line for any forest variables the users need information for.