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Global Pulp News Big data hits the forest

Big data hits the forest

Södra is at the forefront of developing digital tools to optimise the management of its forests for customers and members alike.

In recent years, a crucial aspect of optimising forest management within Södra has been via digitalisation, as Södra’s IT Manager, Örjan Vorrei, explains: “We have been working with digital solutions to improve our business for a decade now and I can honestly say that we have been at the cutting edge of digital technology for forestry for some years now.”

Today, all Södra’s field work is conducted via a forestry app developed in house over several years. “Although we were at the forefront of developments, digitalisation was not a big issue 10 years ago, but today the picture is very different,” says Vorrei. “Then it was about trying to become more efficient, to retain a competitive edge. But today digital technology is about far more for us. It has become an integral part of the strategy. We are now using it to create a representation of the whole of our members’ forest area in great detail. When the project is complete, we hope to be able to build up a picture that allows us to see exactly what trees are standing where, what volumes of a certain species we have, and this data will then be broken down by the age of the tree, its value and more,, giving us the clearest understanding yet of the forest and its value.”

Onwards and upwards

One of the components Vorrei is most excited about is an algorithm the team has developed with the forestry research institute Skogforsk which can predict the outcome of an individual forest harvest with up to 99% accuracy. “If we know exactly what we have and what we will generate during a harvest, we can really tailor our forests to the precise demands of the market at that moment, or even to an individual customer,” Vorrei explains. 

The technology has implications for the company, its members, and its customers. “We are really ahead of the game here,” says Vorrei. “We want to empower our forest owners to give them a better understanding of their assets than they could have by standing in the forest itself. In turn, this understanding moves to the pulp mills where we can use it to predict the best use of each forest for each pulp grade. The next step is to fully integrate our other business areas such as pulp and timber with the technology. This is only going to become more important for all of us.”

Forest owners are stronger together

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