Arianit Kurti, Peter Aronsson, Johan Bergh, Jimmy Johansson, Ljusk Ola Eriksson, Ulrika Johansson-Ståhl and others. Photo: Eglė Gerulaitienė

Open sharing of forest data – a key factor in protecting the climate and biodiversity

Open sharing of information about forests is of great importance in order to protect the climate and preserve biodiversity. Currently, Linnaeus University is running the Forest 4.0 initiative, an excellence centre for the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) in the forestry sector in Lithuania. The goal is to develop innovative solutions that encompass the entire process of modern forestry.

To reduce climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and forest degradation, it is important to openly share data from the forest. Although data from government satellites and remote sensing is increasingly shared in Lithuania, the exchange of data collected directly in forests is still very limited.

Forest 4.0 aims to develop Lithuania's forest strategy by digitalising forest management and developing an innovative bioeconomy based on forests. The project will contribute to the EU's Green Deal and the transition to a sustainable and circular bioeconomy by offering innovative applications of data collection and processing. This new long-term investment will also highlight the importance of sustainable forest management based on scientific principles.

"The use of different digital technologies, such as AI and IoT, will transform the fundamental conditions of the forestry industry. The project will become an innovation platform where data will be used as a valuable resource to create new insights and values for customers in a circular economy within the forestry sector", says Arianit Kurti, project manager for Forest 4.0.

Focus on AI in the forestry sector

The total budget for the project is 20 million euros, of which 10 million euros come from the Lithuanian government and an additional 10 million euros from EU Horizon. The project is divided into seven work packages, with Linnaeus University's budget amounting to 2.1 million euros, with focus on the development of activities within scientific excellence and education.

"The ultimate goal of this work package will be to identify the needs and establish research groups working on the use of AI and IoT methods for sustainable research applications in the forestry industry," Kurti continues.

Examples of activities could include addressing challenges related to different levels of digital maturity within the forestry sector. Another example could be enhancing digital skills and providing new research-based insights on data-driven business and service innovation.

“The collaboration within Forest 4.0 connects its ambitions with The Bridge, which is a long-term, strategic project in partnership with IKEA and Södra, focusing on forestry, innovation, and sustainability. Through digitalisation and collaboration, Forest 4.0 will develop and improve the circular value chain that starts with the living forest,” says Peter Aronsson, vice-chancellor of Linnaeus University.

Supporting forest owners

In practical terms, the project aims to support forest owners in using forest resources more efficiently by utilising advanced AI and IoT technologies. This would enable increased traceability throughout the value chain with the goal of achieving a more sustainable solution. For ordinary citizens, it would mean a better utilisation of natural resources such as forests and an overall contribution to the sustainable development goals.

"Advanced new technologies and materials are crucial for achieving a sustainable and beautiful world. With the right materials and techniques, we can design furniture and interior that not only minimize environmental impact but also enhance the aesthetic experience in our surroundings. Let us explore the possibilities and work together towards a more sustainable future with the forest as a resource,” says Anna Rosenqvist, CEO of Interior Cluster Sweden, one of the participating companies.

A kick-off meeting on May 10–11 at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) in Lithuania marked the start of the project, which will run until 2029. The event was attended by honoured guests, vice-chancellors and pro vice-chancellors of Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), Linnaeus University (LNU), and Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), representatives from the European Commission, Lithuania's Ministries of Education, Science, Sports, and Environment, representatives from Kaunas City Municipality, the chair of the Municipal Council in Växjö Municipality, and many others.

Link to the project page: Forest 4.0

Arianit Kurti, research leader and associate professor of informatics, head of the Department of Informatics at the Faculty of Technology.
Phone: +4672-594 13 27