SILVISMART: a step towards forest digitalisation

SILVISMART offers a key step towards digitisation of the European forest sector.

SILVISMART article published in BeSustainable Magazine

Digital Efficiency Portal SILVISMART helps deliver precision forestry to Europe.

22-24 September 2020, Forest Operations for the Future Conference, Helsingør

The Forest Operations for the Future Conference was held in Helsingør from September 22-24, 2020. Organised by the Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management from the University of Copenhagen, the Nordic-Baltic forestry sector addressed future research and innovation needs within forest operations.

Several partners from TECH4EFFECT (T4E) presented at the online event which was held virtually due to the Corona virus pandemic. The topic examined how forest operations could address the long-term needs of the future wood market.

Specifically, the Conference addressed topics such as the traceability of sustainably certified wood, the possibility of demand shocks, cost pressures, and the unpredictability of extreme climate changes which have affected forest operations.

TECH4EFFECT partners from the Division of Forest and Forest Resources at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Rasmus Astrup, Bruce Talbot and Joachim Bernd Heppelmann presented topics relating to the long-term sustainability of forest operations through increased environmental impact assessments.

The three authors contributed to the topic of “Assessing the relationship between Depth-to-Water (DTW) mapping and rut formation following fully mechanised harvesting operations in Norway”. The subject of DTW maps has been covered on the T4E news feed in a three-part blog series that explain other T4E results. Separately, Bruce Talbot presented “Continuous surface assessments of wheel rutting compared to discrete point measurements — do the benefits justify the efforts?”.

Also on the topic of site reduction, Thomas Holzfeind from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna presented “Predicting forest roads’ bearing capacity using smart sensing technology”.

Holzfeind examined the sensitivity of unpaved forest roads after heavy thaw and rain where roads are subjected to excessive strain due to water penetrating the construction layers which reduce the road’s load bearing capacity. Effective forest management encompasses assessing the trafficability and overall accessibility of machines to and in the forest which can be restricted due to excess water.

The aim of the study was to develop an appropriate sensing approach in the field to determine the modelling parameters needed for this work, and to come up with a smart prediction model for forest roads’ bearing capacity. This should contribute both to improved planning and management of forest operations to avoid costly and unnecessary damage to roads due to a weakened road infrastructure caused by water.

Event report – T4E presents at biomass heating fair Progetto Fuoco

TECH4EFFFECT Italian consortium partners, the national alliance of forest companies, CONAIBO, and the national research council, CNR IBE, attended the world’s leading biomass heating industry event, Progetto Fuoco, in Verona, Italy in February to present the TECH4EFFECT project and SILVISMART Efficiency Portal by focusing on efficient wood procurement.

TECH4EFFECT promotes and creates methods, tools, business models and digital solutions to encourage increased wood production and environmental efficiency for many uses within the wood value chain, including biomass heating.

National Assembly opens event

President of CONAIBO, Livio Bozzolo, opened the National Assembly of Italian forest enterprises at the Progetto Fuoco event which met for the purposes of information sharing and discussion. Lawyer Alessandro Franco addressed the critical issues of safety within the forestry sector, while the new European Union Timber Regulation was presented by the Technical Director of CIFORT-CONAIBO, Luca Canzan. Major of the Carabineri and Commander of CITES team of Vicenza, Luca Stella, gave other specific Italian normative updates involving the sector.

Key forestry representatives discuss safety and timber regulations

T4E Partner at Progetto Fuoco 2020

The TECH4EFFECT workshop, which was the second part of the meeting, was held after the assembly. CNR IBE participant, Dr Natascia Magagnotti, gave a general presentation on the TECH4EFFECT project highlighting the main results achieved to date, while CONAIBO representative for TECH4EFFECT, Dr Giulio Cosola, presented the SILVISMART Efficiency Portal under the title “Techniques and technologies for an efficient wood procurement”.

SILVISMART efficiency portal is explained by Giulio Cosola


SILVISMART, a major deliverable of TECH4EFFECT, has developed a forestry data efficiency portal based on the collection of real-time data from forestry operations for business intelligence and decision support.

Collected data is systemised and transformed into valuable information, which is secure, and presented in pictorial graphs aiming to transfer better knowledge and control over a harvesting operation. The data collector has full control on what data is shared, taking care of any GDPR issues. 

Participation interest shown

The workshop was well attended by many forest enterprises using mechanized harvesters which potentially makes it is easier to provide data transferred from the onboard computers in harvester cabs.

Cosola said that Italy typically had a combination of both mechanized harvesters and motor manual means, even for technologically advanced and modern enterprises.

“This is due to its mountainous terrain and naturalistic forest contexts where felling operations are carried out by chainsaws and tractors, which are still an important part of the wood logging process in the country,” he explained.

He emphasized that new enterprises with modern harvester forwarder machines showed a keen interest in joining the project when the TECH4EFFECT Mapping App became active. 

“Data would then be able to be sent to the portal account of the operator in a way that would be possible to sync data by location (object) and operator/machine, as well,” he said.

The event which gathered relevant parties was deemed a success in that it allowed for constructive discussion and exchange which was specifically relevant to the TECH4EFFECT project.

3-5 June 2020, TEUFOR, Kraków/Poland


From June 3-5* 2020 the TEUFOR conference will take place in Kraków/ Poland. The topic is “Modern Technologies and Engineering in Sustainable Forest Utilization“. Main objectives of the event are:

  • “Presenting and discussing current scientific and practical achievements in the field of forest utilization based on forest technique and engineering development in terms of permanent and sustainable forest management.
  • Exchanging current scientific attainments and practical applications between scientific centres of many countries in Europe and around the world shall contribute to increase quality of forest utilization as well as intensify international cooperation in the scope of conducted research, higher education and international scholar exchange.

The panels will focus on: forest utilization and transportation; ergonomics in forestry; forest technology; and forest engineering.

Stay in touch to keep updated on which TECH4EFFECT results will be presented at TEUFOR!

*Changes due to the current situation with the Corona pandemic might occur. Please check the website of the conference organisers regularly!

Public deliverable out now! Establishment of terrain accessibility maps for 4 case study areas

Forest soils can be disturbed or even damaged by a range of activities, most prominently in the form of soil compaction and soil displacement, frequently resulting in rutting. This may cause massive drawbacks on permanent accessibility to forest stands and a deterioration of future growing potential. Also, tree diseases (such as root rot) could spread faster, with negative impacts on future wood quality and timber revenues. In addition, they affect tree stability making the forest less safe and less attractive to other stakeholders, for instance for recreational users.

Other severe impacts of the degradation of soils are of specific importance for forest contractors: Due to high rutting and wheel slippage, harvesting and the cost of timber extraction is directly negatively influenced by higher fuel consumption and hampered productivity. Recently, TECH4EFFECT partner Georg-August-Universität Göttingen finalized results of their first analyses of trafficability maps resulting in the presentation of their Public Deliverable (D4.1) “Terrain Accessibility for 4 Case Study Areas”.

Four study sites in Europe

To keep disturbances of forest soils to a minimum, it is of utmost importance to gain more knowledge on the sensitivity of certain forest areas when planning and conducting harvesting operations with heavy forest machines. Although some trafficability maps are available already, they are not commonly used due to the lack of information on soil bearing capacity and a high level of specificity. TECH4EFFECT partner, the University of Göttingen, describes the principles of handier trafficability maps and shows evaluations of their application at four case study areas.

Fig. 1: Location of the four case study areas in Finland, Germany, Norway and Poland analysed and compared in this public deliverable (© University of Göttingen, base map: OpenStreetMap).

The four study areas are located in Finland, Germany, Norway and Poland (Fig. 1) with each area approximately 50 km² large. The selected areas cover flat to hilly-mountainous terrain types and their mean annual precipitation ranges from around 660 to 860 mm. The study sites are primarily stocked with coniferous tree species, despite the site in Germany, covered by beech.

Depth-to-Water-algorithm (DTW) for avoiding soil disturbance

The generated maps rely on the Depth-to-Water algorithm (DTW), which estimates the vertical distance to areas with appearing surface water or water saturated soils (Fig. 2). The main advantage of these mappings is that permanent and perennial stream networks within the forest soils can be detected. This could help forest machine operators identify sensitive areas with regards to trafficability – based on this heavy machinery can be kept out of certain areas with low soil bearing capacity. For direct access of the operators to DTW-maps, all it would take would be an upload of a particular map to the on-board computer of the machine.

Fig. 2: Map section of the DTW gradients at the Polish study area (© University of Göttingen).

One of the principal investigators, Marian Schönauer, says: “To get better knowledge of actual trafficability of skid trails is really important since it has many different, serious affects for forest operations and forest contractors. DTW-maps are a potentially powerful tool for these applications for the future!”


Although these DTW-maps are based on digital terrain models only, they still have the potential to contribute to the reduction of rutting during forest operations, in particular at sensitive sites. Schönauer says: “With the application of the DTW-maps in forest operations, critical areas in terms of low DTW-index, permanent and perennial streams can be identified and avoided by forest machine operators. A sufficient way to facilitate this can be realised by providing the maps on the on-board computers of forwarders and harvesters. Within TECH4EFFECT we are also focusing on a conjunction with other data, for example precipitation data and weather forecasts.” Future work could explore incorporating additional data sources into the algorithm, such as soil moisture and climatic conditions to improve the accuracy and informative value of used maps to predict soil bearing capacity and trafficability of permanent skid trails in particular.

To read the full text please go to the TECH4EFFECT website and download the deliverable as PDF! If you want to test the maps please contact the University of Göttingen directly at foresteng (a) uni-goettingen.


When preparing this deliverable, the University of New Brunswick (Canada), especially Professor Paul Arp from the Department of Forestry and Environmental Management (I.U.C. Forestry 311, Fredericton), kindly contributed time and resources to calculate high resolutions DTW maps.


Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, DI Marian Schönauer (Dirk Jaeger lab)

If you want to know more about the TECH4EFFECT project please visit our website. For the latest news on precision forestry, forestry management and the sustainable use of natural resources follow us on social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Research Gate, and consider subscribing to our TECH4EFFECT newsletter!