In Trentino, a project focused on "smart forests”
Forests have always played a crucial role in the economy of the different sectors of Alpine countries. Today, thanks to tourism, to their ability to provide bio-energy and to be a reserve of high-quality wood, they play an increasingly crucial role, besides having the inestimable function of water retention, hydrogeological protection and subtraction of carbon from the atmosphere.
However, to improve the smart management of natural resources and to allow for a conscious use of forest wealth, it is essential to make them “smart”, by investing in traditional (transports) and modern (TIC) communication infrastructures.
If for smart cities the objective is technological innovation to optimize public services, for forests we need to “computerize and give coherence to a sector still managed by traditional methods”.
In Trentino, a project is currently being developed to test some techniques used in experiments related to “smart cities” in a completely different setting, i.e. forests in non-urban areas, which cover almost 80% of the region.
The objective of the project, developed by Trilogis (a company located within Polo Meccatronica in Rovereto), in collaboration with Consorzio dei Comuni Trentini, Fondazione Edmund Mach (FEM) and Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), is to improve the efficiency of the management, monitoring and dissemination of “green” resources in the Province of Trento, by organizing data in an information system which allows to share it more quickly and to exploit it better.
By analysing the images captured by radars on airplanes flying over the region and by using the algorithms developed by FEM and FBK, along with the software developed by Trilogis, it is now possible to monitor the extension and changes of forest species, to estimate the wood volume, and the height of plants much more accurately than it was possible before.
For example, forest rangers of the Municipality of Arco have been equipped with tablets which allow them to inform in real time the appropriate bodies of any issues related to the territory, such as the presence of cracks or intentional damage, as well as store other details, such as places where wood is removed or piled up. Also the provincial offices in charge of the territory and the urban plan have been improved, and programmes have been developed to automate the management of forest and cutting plans.
The Trentino project has the ambition of overcoming the regional boundaries also involving cross-border countries, by setting up and developing some "best practices" to export to other regions. Another initiative, still to be implemented, concerns Pefc that is the certification that states, among other things, that the paper used in books and exercise books comes from forests administered in a sustainable way.