Artificial intelligence at the service of conservation and sustainable forest management

The first Artificial Intelligence and Ecosystem Management international conference held the week of April 17 to 21, has brought together over a hundred scientists from more than 20 countries on 5 continents in Palencia (Spain).

General view of conference attendees. Photo: Pilar Valbuena/iuFOR.

The University Institute for Research in Sustainable Forest Management (iuFOR) of the University of Valladolid (Spain), in collaboration with the Diputación de Palencia and the technological company SNGULAR, has organized this five-day event to discuss the latest advances and applications in artificial intelligence applied to management and conservation of forest ecosystems. This conference has fostered opportunities for collaboration and discussion between researchers and companies, both technological and from the forestry sector, from all over the world.

Among the most outstanding speakers, attendees were able to enjoy a talk by Mark Ducey, a researcher from the University of New Hamshire (United States), and Charlotte Pelletier from the University of South Brittany (France), a specialist in computer science. In his talk, ‘Can AI teach us about growth in a complex forest?’, Ducey defended the use of AI to greatly facilitate and shorten the process of obtaining results, in a field in which all research is long-term.

There was also space for more practical sessions in which projects were presented (such as the Forest Operations Group 3.0) and Big Data and AI tools were used for forestry research (such as Forest Explorer or SIMANFOR), which aroused great expectations among the attendees. In addition to the scientific sessions, both the city of Palencia and the province were visited during the event, showing attendees the diversity of ecosystems of páramos, mountains, and valleys, as well as the rich heritage, history, and culture of the region. Likewise, the celebration of the event has achieved an important impact on the service sector of Palencia, putting the international scientific focus on the region of Castilla y León.

Conference assistants visiting experimental plots and cultural spots in Palencia province. Photos: Pilar Valbuena/iuFOR.

Initiatives such as those of this congress help to give visibility to this type of research, not only those related to artificial intelligence but also research in the forestry sector, which is of vital importance for the future of our future. For this reason, the research work of institutes such as iuFOR is essential for our society. And in this line, the iuFOR members invite you to ‘join the green side’ as the motto of the congress t-shirt read.

The conference has been a great success and iuFOR hopes to hold it again in the near future. We are looking forward to welcoming you again or for the first time, in the next edition of this event.

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iuFOR (University Institute for Sustainable Forest Management Research) is a mixed research and development unit between the INIA and the University of Valladolid, which is a forum for scientific and technical cooperation that carries out joint research activities, innovation, development, dissemination and technical support in the areas of forest management, silviculture, modelling, and biodiversity conservation.