Future of forestry might be closer than you think

To commemorate the International Day of Forests, FTP and EUSTAFOR take a moment to reflect on the innovations that have taken place in the forestry sector in the last decades.

Photo: Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Forestry might no longer be what you imagine it to be! Long gone are the days when forestry consisted only of rugged lumberjacks who went into the forest with axes and saws, and where the wood they harvested was only used to build log-houses and furniture. Modern forestry is the source for a domestic biomanufacturing sector, and it is supported by digital mapping, big data streams and precision forestry management for the benefit of the European society and the environment.

Decades of research and innovation have led to techniques to extract the lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose from raw forest material and transform them into a wide range of innovative products. Europe’s forest resources are today used for making biobased clothing, batteries, medical applications and even in frames for satellites.

And not only the way that we utilize our forests is evolving; the way that we manage them has changed as well. Forests are nowadays closely monitored with the help of remote sensing technologies relying on satellite data, airplane surveillance and drones. These systems, combined with AI technology and advanced prediction models, deliver a constant output of new information. This allows to plan forest management operations very precisely and determine which forest functions should be prioritized in particular areas, thus enabling a holistic management strategy.

This trend of innovation within the forestry sector extends to the EU institutions in Brussels. Never have there been as many new forest-related policy initiatives at EU level as during the European Green Deal. We hope that the decision-makers in Brussels take the time for an in-depth dialogue with key actors from the forest-based sector to make sure that the policies in preparation are balanced and have the impact that is intended.

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The European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) represents state forest companies, enterprises and agencies that have sustainable forest management and sustainable wood production as major concerns. The Association currently has 39 members in 27 European countries.