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The Future of Lumber: How Tech Will Transform Sustainable Forest Management

The logging industry in BC has been seeing a fall in demand due to the rise of novel technology. However, with the burgeoning forestry industry, the logging industry can benefit from following the former's lead.

BC Logging Industry Getting the Axe?

With the rise of technology in recent years, the logging industry in British Columbia has been facing a decline in demand for outputs such as wood pulp for newsprint. The decline has led to reduction in timber harvesting, in turn, negatively impacting the industry’s profitability.

However, this is not the only challenge for the logging industry. Logging companies have faced controversy and negative reception over their environmental and social impacts. People have shared concerns about ecosystem damage, wildlife disruption, and Indigenous rights. In time, these issues have escalated to protests and lawsuits—creating an unfavorable reputation for the industry. Talk about a pine in the neck!

Photo by Unsplash

Turning a New Leaf

Despite operating in the same space, the forestry industry in BC has risen above and become critical to the province’s economy. Its success is due in part to its dedication to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) targets. The logging industry would benefit from following in forestry’s lead!

British Columbia has a rich history with forestry, which drives the industry to ensure that its operations are sustainable in the long term. This includes implementing eco-certification programs, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which ensures environmentally responsible and socially beneficial management of forests.

The forestry industry in BC goes beyond environmental sustainability by advocating for social responsibility as well. Companies have built programs to support the communities in which they operate, including initiatives that promote education and training, support economic development, and provide employment opportunities.

Forestry companies live into the governance pillar of ESG by ensuring that they act in the best interest of their stakeholders. In forestry, the Earth is also a key stakeholder. By ensuring proper business practices, transparency, and ethical conduct, companies can face less economic and social risk.

Sustainable Forest Management

Sustainable forest management practices are critical to preserving the nation’s forests for future generations. But why is sustainable forest management important? In order to continue to benefit ecosystem services such as water filtration and carbon sequestration, we cannot continue to operate unsustainably.

Additionally, sustainable forest management is needed to keep wildfires occurring at a natural frequency. By removing accumulation of dry combustible materials, such as underbrush and dead wood, we can limit the risk of excessive wildfires—protecting both forests and communities.

Image on Freepik

The Future: Tech, AI, and beyond!

So what might the future of forestry look like? For starters, the industry will likely be influenced by technological advances in data centralization, geospatial monitoring, and artificial intelligence (AI). These advances can revolutionize forest management, maximizing efficiency and effectiveness in decision-making and resource allocation.

Data centralization has many benefits, but a kecy one is that it allows for the integration of data from a wide range of sources such as:

  • remote sensing
  • GIS
  • on-the-ground observations.

Each information source provides data through different forms of measurement. By combining the insights gathered from each source, companies can benefit from a more comprehensive understanding of the health and status of a forest alongside all of the factors that are impacting it. For example, companies in the forestry industry can combine data on soil moisture, and tree growth to identify areas at risk of drought, allowing the company to target its interventions for prevention or mitigation. More information, less risk!

Geospatial technology, which uses GPS and other technologies to track the location and movement of forest resources and assets, is bound to play a key role in the future of forestry. Companies can monitor their operations and reduce the risk of accidents or damage to the forest by monitoring the movement of logging equipment. With geospatial monitoring, wildlife movements can be tracked—which in turn helps that company identify areas that are particularly important for conservation and management.

AI can be used for predictive modeling by analyzing data on factors such as:

  • weather patterns
  • soil conditions
  • pest outbreaks

which can predict how the forest is likely to change over time. With AI, forestry companies can explore impact forecasting and discover which operations may contribute heavily to carbon emissions over time. Additionally, forestry companies can use AI to effectively and sustainably manage resources, such as timber, through analysis of supply and demand data to predict future needs.

By leveraging data centralization, geospatial monitoring, and AI tools, forestry companies will be better equipped to protect and manage forests, while also maximizing their economic and social value. What a re-leaf!

Fortunately, Ceco is here to help guide the forestry industry to a higher level of sustainability. Using data centralization, GIS, and AI-driven insights, Ceco can help forestry companies step into the future with more effective and efficient sustainable forest management. Ceco uses machine learning to track and help identify forest areas at risk or in need of improvement, which allows forestry companies to respond quickly and proactively. Through Ceco’s GIS platform, companies can monitor their operations and analyze data to determine the most effective allocation of resources, which can prove useful for carbon management, biodiversity conservation, and more! Head to Ceco solutions to learn more.

Kiran Dhatt
Verified writer

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