Special Issue "Digital Transformation and Management in Forest Operations"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 May 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Timo Saksa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Forest Management Group, Natural Resources Unit, Natural Resources Institute Finland Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
Interests: forest management; forest regeneration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Digital transformation has brought new possibilities for forest management and daily forest operations. Digital solutions in quality management and enterprise resource planning technology in forest operations (logging, regeneration activities) have emerged. The use of open forest data as well as harvester-based information, i.e., Internet of things, can also provide decision support when planning, for instance, regeneration activities on a logging area. Precision forestry operating models and tools can give an extra boost in cost-efficiency in young stand management as well as in harvesting. In silvicultural service development and customer relations management, open forest data and service platforms offer possibilities for new operational concepts with new value-added products. This also makes it possible to resource activities with novel sub-contracting networks or new tools and automatization.

We encourage studies from all fields, including experimental studies, monitoring approaches, and operational models or concepts, to contribute to this Special Issue to promote knowledge and information on how to utilize knowledge-intensive approaches and digital transformation in cost-efficient and sustainable forest management and forest operations.

Dr. Timo Saksa
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Quality management
  • Precision forestry
  • Lean thinking
  • Open forest data
  • Service platforms
  • Resourcing of operations
  • Forest management

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Decision Support Tool for Tree Species Selection in Forest Regeneration Based on Harvester Data
Forests 2021, 12(10), 1329; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12101329 (registering DOI) - 28 Sep 2021
Abstract
Precision forestry—i.e., the division of a stand to smaller units and managing of the stand at a micro-stand level—provides new possibilities to increase forest growth, arrange forest stand structure and enhance forest health. In the regeneration phase by adjusting the tree species selection, [...] Read more.
Precision forestry—i.e., the division of a stand to smaller units and managing of the stand at a micro-stand level—provides new possibilities to increase forest growth, arrange forest stand structure and enhance forest health. In the regeneration phase by adjusting the tree species selection, soil preparation, intensity of regeneration measures (method, planting density, and material), and young stand management procedures according to precise information on soil properties (e.g., site fertility, wetness, and soil type) and microtopography will inevitably lead to an increase in growth of the whole stand. A new approach to utilizing harvester data to delineate micro-stands inside a large forest stand and to deciding the tree species to plant for each micro-stand was piloted in central Finland. The case stands were situated on Finsilva Oyj forest property. The calculation of the local growth (m3/ha/year) for each 16 × 16-m grid cell was based on the height of the dominant trees and the stand age of the previous tree generation. Tree heights and geoinformation were collected during cutting operation as the harvester data, and the dominant height was calculated as the mean of the three largest stems in each grid cell. The stand age was obtained from the forest management plan. The estimated local growth (average of nine neighboring grid cells) varied from 3 to 14 m3/ha/year in the case stands. When creating micro-stands, neighboring grid cells with approximately the same local growth were merged. The minimum size for an acceptable micro-stand was set to 0.23 ha. In this case study, tree species selection (Scots pine or Norway spruce) was based on the mean growth of each micro-stand. Different threshold values, varying from 6 to 8 m3/ha/year, were tested for tree species change, and they led to different solutions in the delineation of micro-stands. Further stand development was simulated with the Motti software and the net present values (NPVs (3%)) for the next rotation were estimated for different micro-stand solutions. The mixed Norway spruce–Scots pine stand structure never produced a clearly economically inferior solution compared to the single species stand, and in one case out of six, it provided a distinctly better solution in terms of NPV (3%) than the single species option did. Our case study showed that this kind of method could be used as a decision support tool at the regeneration phase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Management in Forest Operations)
Article
The Impact of Fleet Size, Harvesting Site Reserve, and Timing of Machine Relocations on the Performance Indicators of Mechanized CTL Harvesting in Finland
Forests 2021, 12(10), 1328; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12101328 (registering DOI) - 28 Sep 2021
Abstract
Upscaling an operation typically results in economies of scale, i.e., cost advantages in business, especially when the production unit’s utilization rate can be improved. According to economic studies of mechanized timber harvesting, large wood harvesting entrepreneurs tend to be more successful in business [...] Read more.
Upscaling an operation typically results in economies of scale, i.e., cost advantages in business, especially when the production unit’s utilization rate can be improved. According to economic studies of mechanized timber harvesting, large wood harvesting entrepreneurs tend to be more successful in business than small entrepreneurs. What are the factors that influence harvesting costs, and how great is their effect on costs? These questions were investigated in mechanized cut-to-length timber harvesting in Eastern Finland by varying (a) the size of the harvesting fleet, (b) the harvesting site reserve, and (c) the timing and duration of the working day of machine relocations, in the case of an entrepreneur using a discrete-event simulation method. Prior to the simulations, harvesting site data were generated from the National Forest Inventory data by the MELA software, and the spatial data analyses by ArcGIS. According to the results, largely because of the low utilization rate of the contractor’s own relocation truck, the harvesting cost of a 2-harvesting-unit (2 HU) scenario was 9% or 6% higher than 4 HU, and 13% or 8% higher than 8 HU, with or without a specifically employed driver of a relocation truck, respectively (the harvesting unit consists of a harvester and a forwarder). In the 4 and 8 HU scenarios, harvesting costs decreased on average by 1% (0.3–1.5), when doubling the size of the harvesting site reserve. With fleet sizes of 6 and 8 HU, good utilization of a relocation truck reduced relocation costs, whereas machine costs only increased a small amount because of a longer machine relocation waiting time than with smaller entrepreneurs. The study raised the importance of entrepreneur-specific planning of machine relocations in the cost-efficient timber harvesting in Finland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Management in Forest Operations)
Article
Implementation of a System for Real-Time Detection and Localization of Terrain Objects on Harvested Forest Land
Forests 2021, 12(9), 1142; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12091142 - 24 Aug 2021
Viewed by 301
Abstract
Research highlights: An automatic localization system for ground obstacles on harvested forest land based on existing mature hardware and software architecture has been successfully implemented. In the tested area, 98% of objects were successfully detected and could on average be positioned within 0.33 [...] Read more.
Research highlights: An automatic localization system for ground obstacles on harvested forest land based on existing mature hardware and software architecture has been successfully implemented. In the tested area, 98% of objects were successfully detected and could on average be positioned within 0.33 m from their true position in the full range 1–10 m from the camera sensor. Background and objectives: Forestry operations in forest environments are full of challenges; detection and localization of objects in complex forest terrains often require a lot of patience and energy from operators. Successful automatic real-time detection and localization of terrain objects not only can reduce the difficulty for operators but are essential for the automation of harvesting and logging tasks. We intend to implement a system prototype that can automatically locate ground obstacles on harvested forest land based on accessible hardware and common software infrastructure. Materials and Methods: An automatic object detection and localization system based on stereo camera sensing is described and evaluated in this paper. This demonstrated system detects and locates objects of interest automatically utilizing the YOLO (You Only Look Once) object detection algorithm and derivation of object positions in 3D space. System performance is evaluated by comparing the automatic detection results of the tests to manual labeling and positioning results. Results: Results show high reliability of the system for automatic detection and location of stumps and large stones and shows good potential for practical application. Overall, object detection on test tracks was 98% successful, and positional location errors were on average 0.33 m in the full range from 1–10 m from the camera sensor. Conclusions: The results indicate that object detection and localization can be used for better operator assessment of surroundings, as well as input to control machines and equipment for object avoidance or targeting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Management in Forest Operations)
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Article
Digital Transformation of Forest Services in Finland—A Case Study for Improving Business Processes
Forests 2021, 12(6), 781; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060781 - 13 Jun 2021
Viewed by 710
Abstract
This case study introduces an innovation and development concept for agile software tools for the improvement of the productivity and customer experience of forest services. This need was recognized in the context of the opening of forest data and the development of service [...] Read more.
This case study introduces an innovation and development concept for agile software tools for the improvement of the productivity and customer experience of forest services. This need was recognized in the context of the opening of forest data and the development of service platforms for a forest-based bioeconomy in Finland. The forest services that were studied covered a continuum from a single type of work, e.g., soil preparation and young stand management through timber procurement, to comprehensive forest property management services. The study concentrated on the needs of micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which provide either retail- or business to business (B2B) services as sub-contractors. In addition, the challenges and bottlenecks in service processes detected by other stakeholders were considered. The prevailing service processes were conceptually modelled in order to search for opportunities for improvements in business and ecosystem services, i.e., agile software concepts. For example, we examined whether it would be possible to create opportunities for flexible operational models for precision, resilience, and protection of valuable microsites in forests. These software concepts were developed and evaluated in co-operation with the stakeholders in a co-creative workshop. The technological feasibility and commercial viability of the concepts, as well as the desirability for the customer were considered. The results of this business development process—i.e., agile software concepts and their anticipated benefits—were provided for further evaluation. In addition to the practical implications of this kind of innovation process tested, the potential of these kinds of agile tools for the further development of knowledge-intensive service processes was further discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Management in Forest Operations)
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Article
Integration of Harvester Production Data in German Wood Supply Chains: Legal, Social and Economic Requirements
Forests 2021, 12(4), 460; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040460 - 09 Apr 2021
Viewed by 630
Abstract
Digitalization and its associated technology are shaping the world economy and society. Data collection, data exchange, and connection throughout the wood supply chain have become increasingly important. There exist many technologies for the implementation of Industry 4.0 applications in forestry. For example, the [...] Read more.
Digitalization and its associated technology are shaping the world economy and society. Data collection, data exchange, and connection throughout the wood supply chain have become increasingly important. There exist many technologies for the implementation of Industry 4.0 applications in forestry. For example, the integration of harvester production data throughout the wood supply chain seems to have strong optimization potential but it is faced with several challenges due to the high number of stakeholders involved. Therefore, the objective of this article is to analyze the legal, social, and economic conditions surrounding the integration of harvester production data integration in Germany. For analysis of the legal and economic conditions, a narrative literature analysis was performed with special consideration of the relevant German and European legal references. For determination of the social conditions, a qualitative content analysis of 27 expert interviews was performed. Results showed that legal ownership of harvester production data cannot be clearly defined in Germany, but there exist several protection rights against misuse, which can define an ownership-similar data sovereignty. Furthermore, harvester data use can be restricted in the case where personal data are traceable, based on European data protection law. From a social perspective, the stakeholders interviewed in the study had different opinions on data ownership. Stakeholders require specific criteria on the data (interfaces) and other factors for the acceptance of new structures to allow successful harvester data integration. From an economic perspective, harvester production data are tradeable through varying transaction forms but, generally, there is no accepted and valid formula in existence for calculating the value or price of harvester data. Therefore, the authors advise discussing these issues with key stakeholders to negotiate and agree on data ownership and use in order to find a suitable solution to realize optimization potentials in the German wood supply chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Management in Forest Operations)
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