Research results to use – Supporting decision-making through multi-source forest inventory

The Finnish university-level research is top of the line, but very few of the results end up being commercially utilized, even if their impact on society could be maximized through their commercialization. In a report from last year, the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy ETLA related that about half of the researchers had made discoveries that they believed to be economically valuable (report 80). However, currently the majority of the findings are left to gather dust. When comparing internationally, Finland has fallen behind in the matter, and research institutes’ current efforts put into commercialization are inadequate. Therefore, the efforts of the private sector are also needed to better utilize significant research results in matters such as improving the state of the environment.

One of the objectives of the EnviNavigator project launched earlier this year is commercializing the results of research and development activities. Bitcomp has long traditions as the employer of academically educated and as the partner of research institutes and officials. Even as of now, there are several doctor-level employees buzzing in the company. Newest addition to the bunch is Joensuu-based Eero Muinonen, who had his doctoral dissertation defense last October. The topics of the dissertation included multi-source forest inventory, remote sensing of forests, and applications based on optical satellite imagery.

And, indeed, there are clear similarities between the recent dissertation by Eero and the objectives of the EnviNavigator project. A network of field sample plots and field plot measurements (such as the Finnish National Forest Inventory information on sample plots) can often be used together with satellite imagery and other map data from a much larger area than the target area. Calculations as such are especially useful when the results need to be calculated with moderate costs to areas of such vicinity to which field sample plots alone do not offer adequate basis. The three publications addressed utilizing the texture of digitized aerial photography in the estimation of the capacity of the forest cover and utilizing satellite imagery to map out the forest area and the capacity of the forest cover.

The publications regarding the satellite imagery were funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. They aimed to reinforce the forest inventory expertise and capacity in target countries, in this case in Nepal and Vietnam.

The adaptation possibilities of the dissertation were evaluated as the calculation for the collection possibility estimation for logging residues and stumps. The estimation was based on an existing, raster-formatted biomass resource assessment produced by multi-source inventory. Thus, the geographic information on forest resources and biomass strata produced by multi-source inventory could be used in decision-making relating to forest bioenergy.

The R&D projects of Finnish companies make a good use of information available from research. Not everything needs to be done from the scratch, as existing research results can be applied and completed. The EnviNavigator project is no exception to the matter. We utilize the efforts of our multiple researchers as well as their expertise, in addition to utilizing internationally prior research results in the project. 

Although the remote sensing data and calculation tools develop and become more diverse all the time, not everything is yet solved.

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Eero’s dissertation is available HERE