We have all heard about smart cities, but how about smart forests? Well, they actually exist. Trentino, where 80% of the Province is covered from woods, is already conducting experiments regarding the smart forest. How? The techniques upon which smart cities are based are now used for non-built-up areas in an attempt to manage and monitor the green resources of the Province.
This initiative is jointly conducted by the Consorzio dei Comuni Trentini, the Fondazione Edmund Mach (FEM), the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) and the Trilogis company, which boasts more than twenty years’ experience in the research, design, development and integration of Territorial Information Systems and Project Management, with headquarters at the Polo Meccatronica in Rovereto, the hi-tech manufacturing hub promoted by Trentino Sviluppo.
But how can technology and IT tools be applied to the forest? As an example, they make it possible to monitor the size and any changes in the woodland species, estimate the number of trees, and obtain extremely precise data concerning the volume of the wood, its biomass and the height of the plants. All this is made possible thanks to the combination of radar images taken from the aircraft flying above the area, the algorithms developed by FEM and FBK and the software developed by Trilogis.
Practical experiments are also being carried out in Arco, where the forestry service has been provided with tablets so they can inform the competent offices in real time of any identified problems in the woods, such as cracking or damage to the plants, as well as the precise positions where trees have been felled and where the logs are stacked. Software programmes designed to automate the control of the forestry management and felling schedules according to geographical area have also been provided to those tasked with territorial and town planning projects.
This is only the beginning. It is hoped that, in the future, it will be possible to involve other areas of the Alpine mountain range, who are aware that the woods and forests carry out an increasingly-important role for both the environment and the local economy: they retain water and moisture, transform the carbon contained in the atmosphere, provide biomass for the production of energy and, last but not least, attract numerous visitors and nature-lovers to the area. Thus the woods and forests are a heritage that must be safeguarded and correctly exploited.