DigiMedFor – Digital tools and technology systems for the sustainable management of Mediterranean forest resources

The Mediterranean region includes more than 25 million hectares of  forests and about 50 million hectares of other wooded lands. Climatic and socio-economic changes in  this region could have serious consequences for forests, potentially resulting in the loss of ecosystem services and causing a wide range of economic, social, and environmental issues.

The low competitiveness of the forest-wood supply chain in European Mediterranean (EUMED) countries is currently amplified by the missing or limited access of forest managers and companies to current and new digital technologies which appear to be out of date in certain key areas or fail to address some of the most pressing difficulties that the industry is expected to be confronting in the next decades.

This rationale calls for the urgent implementation of a multi-actor approach to digitalization, starting from recognizing stakeholders’ needs and subsequently defining joint actions. To this end DigiMedFor's overall goal is to transform the technological landscape of the Mediterranean forest-wood supply chain by increasing its competitiveness, thus allowing the different stakeholders to better manage and supply multiple forest ecosystem services, including the traceability of wood origin from forests to end-users.

In line with the EU forest strategy and the EU digital strategy, DigiMedFor employs advanced and innovative digital solutions to improve the monitoring and management of forest resources along the supply chain from their origin up to the wood industry, optimizing both the sustainability of wood production and traceability and delivery of ecosystem services. DigiMedFor addresses the synergetic use of geo-spatial, AI, and modelling technologies, combining them with ICT.

The project integrates various technologies, including geospatial analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital twin modeling technologies with information and communication technology (ICT) to improve the sustainability of wood production and optimize traceability and delivery of ecosystem services.

DigiMedFor consortium comprises 21 beneficiaries from European and non-European countries, with diverse expertise covering the entire value chain from research to operations. The consortium includes representatives from the forest industry, forest owners, academic and research institutes and SMEs. The forests belonging to the Mediterranean Model Forest Network serve as case studies for demonstrating and applying the digital and technology solutions developed in the DigiMedFor project. DigiMedFor aims to pave the way for a more competitive, sustainable, and technologically advanced forest-wood supply chain in the Mediterranean region by bringing together key stakeholders and leveraging digital innovations.

Coordinator: Department of Agricultural Sciences - University of Naples  FEDERICO II

Partners:

  1. DEEP BLUE SRL
  2. ASSOCIAZIONE FORESTA MODELLO DELLE MONTAGNE FIORENTINE
  3. FUNDACION CENTRO DE SERVICIOS Y PROMOCION FORESTAL Y DE SU INDUSTRIA DE CASTILLA Y LEON ES
  4. TRESTIMA OY
  5. EUROPEAN LEADER ASSOCIATION FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT, aisbl
  6. TOPVIEW SRL
  7. DIMOS KAVALAS
  8. ETHNIKO KENTRO EREVNAS KAI TECHNOLOGIKIS ANAPTYXIS
  9. CONSORCI FORESTAL DE CATALUNYA
  10. CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
  11. CENTRO DE INVESTIGACION ECOLOGICA Y APLICACIONES FORESTALES
  12. FORÊT MODÈLE DE PROVENCE
  13. MODELNA SUMA ISTRA
  14. ASOCIACION PARA LA CERTIFICACION ESPANOLA FORESTAL - PEFC ESPANA
  15. PEDAL CONSULTING SRO
  16. MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY
  17. INSTITUT NATIONAL DE RECHERCHES EN GENIE RURAL, EAUX ET FORETS
  18. SERVIZI LEGNO-SUGHERO CONSORZIO*CSLS O CONLEGNO
  19. MARE ENGINEERING GROUP SPA
  20. FORZA AGENCY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CARPATHIAN REGION NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Project name: Digital tools and technology systems for the sustainable management of Mediterranean forest resources

Project number: 101081928

Project acronym: DIGIMEDFOR

Call: HORIZON-CL6-2022-CIRCBIO-02-two-stage

Topic: HORIZON-CL6-2022-CIRCBIO-02-06-two-stage

Type of action: HORIZON-IA

Project starting date: 1 June 2023

Project duration: 36 months

OBJ1 – Strengthen Mediterranean Forest inventory systems through digitalization and harmonisation of data.

Description: OBJ1 aims to digitalise forest inventory data of some of the forests involved in DigiMedFor by applying a multi-platform approach (AI-based innovative tools as well as more traditional ones) to integrate the existing national inventories with local and detailed spatial and non-spatial forest attributes and thus meet the requirements of international monitoring and reporting on carbon stock, sink and emissions, improving the comparability, transparency, and accuracy of forest inventory of the EU member countries. Moreover, it aims to develop a toolkit for forest managers on how to measure forest variables and attributes and include them in digital inventories. Indeed, to achieve a high and sustainable standard in the management of forests, both data collection and inventories need to be optimised, shared, and made accessible to all stakeholders, public and private.

OBJ2 – Increase traceability, grading, and certification of wood and non-wood resources and products, from forest to end-user establishing a link between the wood and non-wood resource assortment origin and the final product of the industrial process.

Description: OBJ2 aims at establishing a link between the wood resource assortment origin and the final product of the industrial process by developing and then providing stakeholders with various optimisation tools (including ICT-, AI- and NDT-based tools) for certification of sustainable forest management, ecosystem services, logging activities, wood and non-wood traceability, wood and non-wood quality evaluation and timber grading. Indeed, the traceability of wood resources and products, from forest to end-users, offers enormous potential to foster sustainable management, counteract illegal harvesting and exchange of wood and enhance EUMED forest value chains.

OBJ3 – Support informed and optimal decision-making of forest managers and owners and other stakeholders in the forest sector.

Description: OBJ3 aims at implementing informed decision systems to support forest-management decisions, from strategic (e.g., wood and non-wood supply plans, merchantable wood and non-wood products, etc.) to operational (e.g., harvest scheduling). When IC-based measurements from remote and proximal sensors and ground-based information are combined with AI- and process-based dynamic and 3D models, they allow for realising a Virtual Forest Decision Support System (VFDSS), representing one of the most advanced tools in the decision-making framework of forest management. Through this digital system, forest managers and owners can test and compare the effect of different forest management options and change scenarios over time.

OBJ4 – Create the conditions for the establishment of business networks and full exploitation of DigiMedFor products along the forest-wnw supply chain.

Description: OBJ4 aims at fostering the exploitation of DigiMedFor tools and services. To set the scene for full exploitation, several variables must be considered such as economic, ethical, legal, regulatory, user acceptance, and skill-related issues. DigiMedFor will carry out a thorough analysis of all these aspects and provide an overview of future scenarios as well as recommendations on how to overcome the potential barriers. DigiMedFor will carry out analyses of the job opportunities in the forest sector, as well as of new business models along the value chain. An ambitious part of this objective will be to support forest policy and regulation - to more explicitly state can ‘digitalization integrates current instruments and regulation regarding MED Forest resources’ - and then to re-write the standards to efficiently incorporate digital instruments in the management and traceability of forest resources. Networking, dissemination and raising awareness activities will be organised and carried out to further strengthen the exploitation of the project results.

Key results:

Forest digitalization

  • DigiMedFor toolkit for forest managers to measure forest variables and attributes
  • DigiMedFor digital tool for inventory of Mediterranean forest resources

Grading and traceability of wood resources

  • DigiMedFor tool for in-situ wood evaluation and grading
  • DigiMedFor Data Traceability Platform System
  • DigiMedFor picture-based tracking system
  • Guidelines for the digitalization of ecoservices provided by certified forests

Forest management decision support systems

  • DigiMedFor Knowledge Platform
  • AI-based predictive models
  • Process-based mathematical model
  • DigiMedFor Virtual Forest Decision Support Systems (VFDSS)