A constant challenge for forestry is to identify areas with high conservation values, which require consideration during harvesting. Prior to each forestry measure, it is in Sweden the user’s responsibility to locate areas that need environmental consideration, so that the harvesting is carried out according to praxis, so-called freedom with responsibility.
The decisions are often placed on one or a few people, although the trade-offs can be difficult if a forest area is to be classified as a retention area or production forest, and more exactly where the boundary should be located. This means that many decisions must be made, usually in the field. This require good knowledge about conservation from those who plan and implement felling. Despite this, there are currently poor availability of field tools for finding areas that require environmental consideration.
Data from the national forest survey regarding environmental considerations in forestry for the harvesting period 2013-2016 show that environmental considerations can be improved, especially concerning wet forests and biotopes that require environmental consideration, where a large negative impact from logging was observed for one fifth of the cases. Some of the reasons pointed out are that biotopes that require environmental consideration can often be difficult to identify and delimit. Additionally, the conservation values are assessed differently by different persons doing the inventory, which makes the delimitation more difficult.
In EFFORTE, 19 wetlands were surveyed in the field in order to digitally mark the area that should be retained in a hypothetical final felling if the goals for good environmental consideration are to be achieved. The wetlands included low productive wetlands and their adjacent wet forest with high conservation values. Remote sensing models were made retrospectively in ArcMap to find what geodata and geographical tools that could be used to find this target retention area.
The project showed that there is great potential to map open wetlands and surrounding wet forests with high conservation values by means of remote sensing. Such mapping can help with logging planning to leave appropriate retention areas and avoid driving damages on soil and water. The remote sensing models combined different types of geodata to achieve this specific mapping and had much higher accuracy than other existing geodata mapping wetlands and wet forests.