Tilhill Forestry, July, 2020

New Civ Tech challenge from FLS - better forest measurement

Ardcastle Trees

Forestry and Land Scotland has launched an exciting funding opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and innovators - to come up with ways to better analyse and measure forest trees.

A better understanding of the properties and quality of the timber in different areas of forest will improve the efficiency of harvesting operations. As well as making it easier to identify forest blocks that offer a ‘best fit’ to what is being asked for by customers, it will also reduce the potential for over- or underproduction when fulfilling an order. 

The challenge is being run through the Scottish Government Civ-tech programme, and is open to anyone with a good idea, whether or not they have an existing business or product. Entrepreneurs who present the most promising ideas are offered support through the Civ-tech programme to build a business around their product idea.

Josh Roberts, FLS Innovation Manager, said;

“We already use some sophisticated techniques but some of the processes for measuring and calculating timber volumes are still labour intensive and – despite our best efforts - cannot feasibly be scaled up to cover the hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest that we manage.

“Consequently, we work to general estimates of the timber volume in a given area when planning operations. A more detailed, Region-wide picture of the make-up of all of our forests would allow a huge leap forward in our planning and really optimise how efficiently the nation’s forests are used, which is the ultimate goal of this project.

“This is an issue for foresters right around the world, so hopefully our latest Civtech challenge is as productive as the last in finding solutions that can be exported wherever there are forests!”

Finding and employing a new tool for gathering this information would not only help with better planning but would also reduce the area of forest that needs to be harvested to meet any given demand.  With Scotland’s forests being such a precious, limited and valuable resource, it is important to make sure that the maximum benefit is obtained from those areas that are felled.

Forestry and Land Scotland ran a similar style of challenge with Civtech in 2019 looking at growing trees from seed better. That challenge is already providing very exciting results, from both a scientific and commercial perspective and it’s hoped that success can be repeated again this year.

A live Q&A session about this challenge will be held on Monday 20th July at 15:00. Anyone interested in the challenge can registering their interest in taking part in the Q&A on the Public Contracts Scotland page for this challenge.

The closing date for applications is Monday 3 August. More information about the challenge can be found online.