Stora Enso using drones to detect spruce bark beetles damage in Finnish forests

Stora Enso’s drone research used a drone and a multispectral camera to detect insect damages in Finnish forests. The image interpretation application was able to identify trees where spruce bark beetles nestled. The new forest health data can be used for example to plan forest management, timely silvicultural work and harvesting.

The spruce bark beetle, which damages spruces in particular, is estimated to become more common in the northern forests as the climate warms. Stora Enso Forest division’s drone was able to detect spruce bark beetle exposure much faster and more efficiently than the human eye. Research flights were conducted in in South Karelia, Finland in the vicinity of Lappeenranta in the summer of 2019, and the research results were recently finalised. 

Spruce bark beetle detection by drones is reliable

The study showed that the observation of spruce bark beetle exposure made by drones and the image interpretation application was reliable. It also turned out that the larger the tree in question, the easier it was to detect the exposure. In addition, the image interpretation application was programmed to identify spruces from the other tree species: identification was 97% correct. The findings of the application were further confirmed by a field trip. From the point of view of image interpretation, a cloudy weather was the best for the flights.

In addition to Finland, forest research flights and image interpretation have been performed in Sweden and the Czech Republic. Health information on thousands of conifers has been accumulated on flights. Stora Enso’s drone pilots have already scanned hundreds of hectares of forest, and more and more forest data is being accumulated. Descriptions are always made with the permission of the forest owner.

The new Forest division, which started operations in the beginning of 2020, includes Stora Enso’s Swedish forest assets and the 41% share of Tornator with the majority of its forest assets located in Finland. The division also includes wood supply operations in Finland, Sweden, Russia and the Baltic countries.