Forestry at your fingertips

As a forest administrator can you get up-to-date information on the forest resources that you are managing? Probably not, since even in countries with high investments in the forestry sector, the information on cuttings, damage and even on forest biomass or growing stock volume is often uncertain or out-of-date. Unreliable or noisy information increases the difficulty of practicing sustainable forestry as the decisions that need to be made are not based on hard facts. The issues of uncertainty are highlighted when forestry is a low priority for public investments and accessibility of forests is poor. This means the forests cannot be effectively utilized from the economic viewpoint whilst being degraded due to lack of management.

In most countries the value of forestry and forest products is only a few per cent of the value of foreign trade. The economic potential could be much higher taking into consideration the existing forest resources and the general move to replace non-renewable resources with renewable ones. Having up-to-date information is an essential component in improving the utilization of forest while keeping it ecologically sustainable.

The Forestry Thematic Exploitation Platform or F-TEP aims to support better decision making in forestry and thus improve forest management. This will be achieved by providing tools to generate updated forest resources information over large areas. F-TEP can provide to forest administrators and managers already generated forest products by third parties, access to Sentinel and other satellite data, easy-to-use tools for generating own forestry products, and the infrastructure, i.e. computing resources needed to create these products.

The two Sentinel-2 satellites, of which the first was launched in June 2015 and the second will be launched this year, will provide images free of charge with 10 m spatial resolution and a scene size of 290 km every few days for any global location. This assures frequent image availability also over more cloudy regions. These images with 13 spectral bands and high radiometric sensitivity contain vast quantities of data and hence are high volume and require a lot of disk space and computing power. In F-TEP, the users generate their desired forest products, such as forest cover change maps, on the platform without the need to download and process such large data volumes on their own systems. Rather, the users then only need to download the final map.

The F-TEP offers community tools, such as a discussion forum to the users. If the user does not want to compute the products they can ask the production from a service provider through the forum.

Tuomas Häme, F-TEP Project Manager
Details of Sentinel-2 (left) and Landsat 8 (right) images from August 20, 2015 from Southern Finland.
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