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Forest integrate



An online platform for woodland inventory and management


We are excited to announce the beginning of a new project to improve accessibility for woodland inventory and management. Funded by the Forestry Commission’s Woods Into Management Forestry Innovation Fund, and in collaboration with Sylva Foundation, Arboreal Forest, Northwoods and the National Trust. The Forest Integrate project will build and test a platform of linked apps. Apps that enable woodland owners and managers to better understand and monitor their woodlands efficiently and easily whilst simultaneously creating focussed management plans.  


What’s the need? 


46% of English woodland is unmanaged or under-managed, and much of it is planted without the intention of future management. This lack of woodland management in England has multifaceted detrimental impacts. From wasted economic potential, to biodiversity loss, failure to increase carbon capture, and so much more. Thousands of hectares of English woodlands end up being missed opportunities for enhancement and enrichment on multiple scales. Where woodlands are managed, it is too often with little to no true understanding of the woodland’s actual condition. The resulting management ends up being carried out in ways less than ideal for a thriving and resilient woodland. 


Understandably, a lack of proper management is partly due to how time consuming and costly it can be to conduct thorough woodland inventories and condition assessments. Luckily, there are now a number of digital tools that can aid with this dilemma. Sylva’s MyForest platform and Arboreal forest are two digital inventory tools we’ve been playing with lately. These online apps / platforms make woodland planning and management a process that is open to a wider range of users. There is one snag though. We’ve found them to be somewhat limiting as they don’t seamlessly integrate across each other. As a result they are not quite as efficient or accessible as they could be (or as we would like them to be). 


This is where our project finds its calling. We will be testing how to combine data from woodland management and condition assessment tools, and playing with how we can enable data to flow between the two platforms making the whole process of planning a seamless, joyful, and accessible one.


Integrating woodland inventory and management 


We will begin with Sylva’s MyForest platform as the test bed. Other measurement tools can then be integrated into the management planning process from there. Initially we will focus on the inventory app Arboreal Forest. The app allows rapid traditional inventory data collection, and provides calculations of tree volumes, basal area and carbon stored. We will then follow this with integration of ecological assessment tools, and supply chain tools such as Timbeter and Cloud Forest.


Working with Northwoods and the National Trust, we will test the usability of the platform. Testing will take place across varying geographic contexts and user groups. This will provide a thorough assessment of the potential success of an integrated system. 


End goal


The goal is to enable small woodland owners to head into their woods, mobile device in hand, and leave with an accurate and informative inventory. The inventory can then be effortlessly saved into a platform associated with their woodland mapping. And this in turn is integrated into their management plan and plan of operations with ease. The hope is that with better understanding of the condition of our woodlands future management actions can be better directed and implemented. The further enhancement of integrating ecological assessment and supply chain tools with these apps will ensure fully holistic woodland management. 


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