Innovation Future Specialist

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Future Forest Solutions

Great success often starts with a great vision.

So the following might help...

In the future, it is recognised that rapid and significant changes to our forest practices are required.


The unregulated practices that destroy forests are detected globally via satellites, and significantly reduced by policy and regulatory pressures, transparency, and consumer choice.


Some ancient forests have been given protected status: no commercial activities, and left as nature intended.


Managed forests, with varying levels of "sustainability", still exist across the world. The practice of clear cutting patches of forest, then replanting, were thought to be sustainable (at least in the long term), but it is recognised that this destroys habitat and the ecosystem, and results in the loss of many species of animals and plants; including insects. It also became apparent that the slow growth of the newly planted replacement trees posed a significant challenge: these trees would not achieve maturity until decades after an urgent solution to climate change was needed!


So a paradigm shift was urgently required, and new eco-sustainable practices emerged. Forests meeting this gold standard are monitored and managed at a detailed level:

» all key aspects of the ecosystem are measured (animal and plant species, water, soil, and the health and growth rates of each tree), and

» specific intelligent advice (and education) is provided for each worker in these forests.

Data is collected via remote sensing, aircraft, drones, networked sensors, and roaming robots. Rather than chopping down trees, and destructively clear cutting patches, trees are sustainably harvested by taking a limited number of branches per tree. Research showed that between 10 and 40 percent of the branches could be harvested, without an impact on tree growth rates. Given that a tree with a diameter twice that of another grows three times faster, this is a much better solution than chopping whole trees down and planting (slow growing) new ones. The intelligent information system models tree growth for every species, in its given environmental conditions, and advises on the specific course of action for each tree, to obtain optimum results.

The use of branches, instead of tree trunks, initially resulted in skepticism in the timber industry because of differences in quality and straightness between the two. However, a successful innovation challenge in the early 2020s produced machines that could produce equivalent (and sometimes better) wood products from these branches. Such innovative machines disrupted the timber industry and provided new commercial opportunities for everyone - from those in the forests through the supply chain to customers. Customers can select, or create, custom digital designs that the machines create in situ (leaving wood waste to support the forest ecosystem). The product components are shipped in flat pack form, to minimise transport costs. Similarly, branches are easily processed for the pulp, paper and card industry. (The new machines also work on tree trunks - for those that still practice old style logging.)

One of the innovative machines is a 3D printer for wood: able to produce any wood based product. It surprised many with a disruptive innovation that led to a range of smart paper based products; and the replacement of plastic products with biodegradable products.

Historically, about half of the wood consumed globally was used as firewood for heating, cooking and lighting. Many of the people doing this did so because they did not have access to electricity, and some suffered from poor health because of indoor air pollution. Fortunately, an innovation challenge led to abundant, affordable, clean energy sources: renewable electricity. This meant that a significant drain on forest resources was removed; and the health and opportunities for those people greatly improved.

Planned sustainable

However, even the above innovations were not enough to solve the urgent need to mitigate climate change. So billions of additional trees had to be rapidly planted across the planet. These new planned sustainable sites follow eco-sustainable practices but they go beyond this: they are planned to sustainably support the natural ecosystem, provide water, energy and resources, and to sustainably support all human activities. Ecosystems are restored to their original beauty; and in conjunction with renewable energy and geo-engineering technologies, carbon dioxide levels are slowly falling.

All of the world's deserts are much greener, consisting of: forests, agricultural zones, and mega-solar-farms. The solar energy allows abundant quantities of clean, desalinated, water to be collected from the seas, to irrigate the land and provide water to forests and local populations. Excess energy and resources are exported.


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