How could European bio-based industry intensify its practices and take advantage of its growth potential in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner? A unique research project EFFORTE is looking for answers from forest management and wood harvesting practices.

In a joint effort, European forest research institutions and industry are set to find cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions for forest operations.

One of the aims of the EFFORTE project is to develop real-time applications for forecasting the most efficient and environmentally sustainable interval for wood procurement, and to this end, EFFORTE will develop and pilot new methods and applications utilizing big data.

“The questions of terrain trafficability and environmental sustainability are very relevant to the forest sector all over Europe. In all parts of the continent, there are seasons of difficulty with the wood procurement process, especially concerning the condition of forest soil”, says EFFORTE project’s coordinator Jori Uusitalo from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Efficiency also through mechanization and big data

EFFORTE will also pursue for higher productivity and efficiency in forest operations such as tree planting and young stand cleaning operations through mechanization.

Big data, on the other hand, provides a huge opportunity to increase efficiency of forest operations. EFFORTE researchers will develop and pilot precision forestry applications together with the industry sector.

“Big data connects knowledge of weather and soil conditions and efficient silviculture and harvesting actions with the demand and expectations from forest industries and the society. This makes it possible to adopt precision forestry management practices”, Jori Uusitalo says.

Research results immediately into practice

EFFORTE brings together European research organisations and forest industry. The project consortium consists of five research institutes, 13 major industrial companies, four small or medium-sized companies and one state-owned company from Finland, Sweden, France, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

The project is financed by a new type of public-private partnership: the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI). While the BBI program’s total funding is € 3.7 billion, EFFORTE project has a budget of € 4.2 million, half of which is financed by BBI and the other half funded by the consortium partners themselves.

Director Heikki Pajuoja of Metsäteho Oy, a research and innovation company owned by Finnish forest companies, says that the most important motivation for the industry is the expected result.

“The best thing about this project is that it was planned together with research and industry. In effect, the results will be taken directly into practice. This is a big investment from the industry, but everybody wins when we work together”, he says.