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Technology to make Australian forests smarter

3 March 2022
The latest episode of FWPA’s WoodChat series of podcasts takes a deep dive into some exciting Australian projects focused on the fusion of forestry and technology to help shape and strengthen the forests of the future. Listeners are invited to discover how scientists are working to make smarter, healthier and more productive forests, utilising everything from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to genomics and airborne sensors.

Amongst the interviewees is Professor Mark Brown of the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Program Leader of the Smarter Regions Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which is leading an initiative to support projects designed to ensure the benefits of AI are maximised for forestry in Australia’s regional areas.

“For the most part, Australia’s rural industries are not keeping pace with the levels of AI development observed in other industries. We are therefore looking to make sure forestry is equipped to enjoy the competitive advantages offered by AI,” said Brown. “By collecting and interpreting the large amounts of data that exists across the forestry industry, AI can help inform forest management decisions that will give us the best outcomes for forest products at the end of the supply chain, now and in the future.

“AI can be used to identify the genetic, management and environmental patterns that impact timber quality. In simplest terms, it’s about getting the right products to the right markets, while minimising wastage or loss along the supply chain.

“Using AI to effectively manage data means we can say with confidence what volume and quality of timber is available today, as well as what volume and quality of timber will be available in five-to-ten years’ time, based on what has been planted and how we manage that resource over the next decade,” said Brown.

Listeners will also hear from Dr Christine Stone of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries about remote platforms equipped with sensor technology that are being used to capture high resolution data and characterise the structure of native forests, in support of better forest management.

During the episode, the presenters also speak to Dr Richard Kerr, Research Geneticist at Tree Breeding Australia, about a tool developed to help Australian growers select radiata pine trees for planting based on attributes associated with their pedigree that make them suitable for the conditions of their plantation.

WoodChat represents FWPA’s ongoing commitment to engaging ways of communicating news and innovations to the industry and beyond. Each episode includes in-depth conversations with experts on recent discoveries and current initiatives. You can listen to WoodChat on Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify.

Source: FWPA

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