Researchers find new solution for charting Russia’s forest resources

Russian softwood logs. Photo credit: Lesnaya Industriya Journal

Russian and Finnish researchers at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) are combining expertise to collect forest data in Russia, giving the country’s forest resources database a much-needed boost where up-to-date data is only available for less than 10% of Russia’s forest area.

The partnership also reduces the amount of field work and cost by combining information from three sources—satellite imagery, imaging by unmanned drones and sample plot measurements, especially where roads are poor and network coverage limits measurements in the field.

“Outdated forest resource data of questionable quality is a problem, since, in the worst case scenario, companies are forced to base their investment decisions on guesswork,” says Eugene Lopatin, senior scientist at Luke.

The solution is being developed under the new project, Eastern Finnish competence provides a competitive solution for the management of up-to-date forest resource information in Russia (ISKRA), a study of the cost-efficiency of the latest technology and adapting Finnish forest planning solutions to Russian conditions. Forest resource data collection will be piloted in forest areas leased by a Finnish company in the Republic of Karelia.

The project will produce a forest stand simulator in Russian that can be used to demonstrate the effects of different forest management alternatives on total roundwood removals and economic profitability, for example. In addition, optimised forest management options will be produced for a pilot company and a prototype program developed for the preparation of a Russian forest plan.

The transition to intensive forestry is necessary, particularly in north-west Russia which has a large timber-processing industry. All forest stands that are accessible in economically viable terms have been harvested in forests leased by companies. To secure their future timber supply, companies must therefore begin intensive timber production.

“Up-to-date information on forest resources is a basic requirement for this. Since there are several thousands of forest-leasing companies in Russia, the project’s products are in demand,” says Sari Karvinen, research scientist at Luke.

The project is being facilitated by funding from the European Regional Development Fund and the Regional Council of North Karelia.