84th Digitaldialog: Digital Forest Twin

On 29 June, the 84th Digitaldialog on the topic of "Digital Forest Twin" took place on the premises of JOANNEUM RESEARCH in Graz. Around 80 interested people gathered on site and virtually.

84th Digitaldialog: Digital Forest Twin
84. Digitaldialog, Foto: JOANNEUM RESEARCH/ Katz

DIGITAL Director Heinz Mayer welcomed and moderated the event.


What are digital twins for?

In industrial manufacturing, the concept of digital twins plays a significant role with comprehensive digitalisation and the Industry 4.0 initiative. This is because digital images can be used to simulate products and production facilities before they are even built. However, digital twins are also used for areas outside of industrial production, such as forest management.

What do digital twins bring to forestry?

In the context of the European Green Deal, the forest plays an enormous role. On the one hand, directly in the reduction of CO2 and the regeneration of our atmosphere. On the other hand, the forest is becoming increasingly important as a supplier of wood in the field of renewable raw materials. Conversely, our climate and climate change have a serious impact on vegetation. What these are is being observed from above using remote sensing techniques. The researchers at DIGITAL, the Institute for Information and Communication Technologies at JOANNEUM RESEARCH, have built up years of expertise in the field of remote sensing: Mathias Schardt and Janik Deutscher present the infrastructure and technological remote sensing solutions for forestry operations, for example. This is important for detecting damage caused by storms or bark beetles, for example. "We process such large amounts of data (Sentinel data) that we are facing new challenges in digitalisation. Cloud computing, Big Data, Deep Learning and generally data management are finding their way into Earth observation" said Janik Deutscher. Mathias Schardt explained details based on the project "Forest Atlas Styria".

Digital twins in the forestry and timber industry

Günther Bronner, Managing Director of Umweltdata Gmbh, continued with a presentation on the digitalisation of forest inventory. His vision: "In the medium future, we will no longer navigate in the forest by GPS, but by tree identification, which we have previously identified individually and have in the database. We can no longer just recognise deadwood, but also quantify it. With voice recognition and augmented reality, we will be able to control the forest."

Gerhard Pelzmann from the Styrian Chamber of Agriculture spanned the arc from research to practice and addresses the question of how to make existing remote sensing data directly available to forest enterprises. With 145,000 forest owners in Austria of various sizes, this is a challenging undertaking. Wolfgang Knöbl, Innovation Manager of Weitzer Wood Solution, rounded off the Digitaldialog from the point of view of the wood processing company. He vividly demonstrated the predictability of wood as a material and thus the suitability of wood as a lightweight construction material, for example in the automotive industry. The use of digital twins is also highly relevant for the industry for the optimal use of wood as a raw material.