and digital services enable its easy use

The forest resource information produced by the Finnish Forest Centre was made openly accessible around three years ago in March 2018. Since then, it has established itself as a central data pool for Finnish forest sector used by numerous digital services. Information is used for example for forest planning, timber trade,  planning of forest management work, estimating possible use cases for trees, and for developing forest livelihood in general.

Resource information by forest stands can be downloaded to a workstation and used with any geographic information software, for example with QGIS. The Finnish site for downloading the data sets can be found here. However, the easiest way of utilizing them is through a forest application where the information can be shown in a visually clear way. Advantages of using a ready-made software also include that in an application the data set is automatically updated. One such software is WoodsApp, which also recently turned three years old.

But let us back up a little. Open forest resource information is data on Finnish forests collected by the Forest Centre. It includes information on forests’ growing areas and tree cover, on especially important habitats and on forest use, among other things.

The data set is based on laser scanning that used to be done every ten years (currently every six years). Between the inventories, the information is updated with the help of different data sources such as growth calculation, forest use announcements, Kemera announcements on fulfillment of the planned forest management work, and update information available through the Metsää service. In the future, also information from harvester will be included as a data source. Inventory covers a total of 13,9 million hectares or 99 percent of the area of privately owned forests in Finland.

Take a digital leap to forest

The opening of forest resource information was one of the most significant digital leaps in the Finnish forest field. All forest stands in Finland and the immense amount of data they contain enable versatile utilization of the data set for different forest sector operators. Combined with an application with search features, filtering the data mass becomes not only easy but also fun.

This brings us back to WoodsApp. Combining big data masses and processing them are parts of the core expertise of Bitcomp. The functionalities of WoodsApp are based on this core expertise. In WoodsApp, open forest information and other necessary map data sets are combined with easy-to-use search features. Thanks to this, big data masses are easily accessible and usable. They are visually clear, dividable by the use case and accessible with any mobile device.

WoodsApp was deployed almost immediately after the open data was published. Its basic idea was and continues to be very simple. A timber purchaser or a forest service entrepreneur can use filtering features to quickly find forest stands fitting for their business or equipment. These can then be picked to a worksite list. Theme maps, which are visually of high quality, and the worksite list can be used directly as the basis for an offer. The following variables can be used in the filtering:

  • Wood assortment
  • Development class
  • Logging practice
  • Planned forest management work
  • Harveastability
  • Scheduled felling year
  • Scheduled silvicultural work year
  • Mean diameter
  • Volume

The map works in filtering by limiting the results. This means that the user can choose the scale of the area from which they want to search forest stands. The search results are highlighted on the map either as hot spots or as highlighted stands, depending on the map scale. The estate identifier and address search can also be used in limiting the results. The stand search is almost like a game. Once the stand has been clicked to open it for further examination, it appears on the map in a different color. This helps the user to remember which stands they have already examined. For example forest use announcement data set can be opened in the background, which allows the user to see whether a stand has already been subjected to timber trade.

The chosen stands can be listed and shown as a map layer. Summaries can be made of the list, which can be exported to other systems for further processing in XML format that is in accordance with the forest resource standard. Thus, these summaries can be used in a versatile manner to benefit your business.

WoodsApp can directly link to the estate search by the National Land Survey of Finland as well as to the PEFC query application. WoodsApp also has a diverse set of map tools to support different field features.

  • User location and map centering
  • Measuring area and distance
  • Drawing tools
  • Adding a supply location
  • Possibility to save own notes
  • Saving photos to a spatial note
  • Printing maps and chosen stands

Theme maps and worksite lists are visually of high quality and they can be directly used for example as the basis for an offer for a customer. Other useful map layers include forest use announcements, background and topographical maps, Kemera data sets by the Forest Centre, harvestability, forest cover height model, roads, and nature conservation sites.

And it does not end there. The insuperability of WoodsApp when compared to other similar applications is due to its ability to reach even the lengths of technically more demanding solutions that bring clear flexibility to the everyday work of forest professionals. The Premium version users can also add and edit cutting proposals and wood assortment accruals as well as export the information to their own background system (for example Forest by Pinja) through an interface. This way the business process can continue after the selection of the site and planning on field seamlessly with signing the contract and executing the actual work.

Forest resource information is an ace up your sleeve

Ari Eini wrote as much in his blog post (available in Finnish here), and he was right. Both we the builders of information services and systems and the forest sector professionals and forest owner clients have learned to utilize digital services and there is no turning back in sight. By taking advantage of forest resource information, the productivity of forest services can be boosted significantly. This advantage is easily within the reach of forest professionals with the help of digital services. Open forest and nature information can be further refined depending on users’ needs. For example, open forest information can be enriched with the calculation of carbon captured in forests. Among others, predictions and estimations that benefit nature travel entrepreneurs or natural product companies can be made based on forest information. The opportunities are endless.

The Finnish forest information ecosystem is unique even in a worldwide comparison. Data moves within the system effortlessly thanks to the forest information standard built together, and it becomes more enriched and refined the more time it spends traveling in the ecosystem.

Smart phone applications and maps make field work effortless, as the information once written in the application does not need to be copied anywhere else. Despite all this, a pen has not been rendered utterly useless quite yet. During the cold winter weather when examining change detection sites with WoodsApp, yours truly found the benefits of a touch pen, when no removal of mittens was needed.

In addition to services and applications utilizing open forest resource information, Bitcomp is currently building the new forest resource and nature information system of Finnish Forest Centre jointly with Simosol.

Veera Pyy

Veera Pyy

Communications Coordinator