Forestry and Land Scotland Launches New CivTech Challenge

Forestry and Land Scotland has launched an exciting funding opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and innovators. The challenge is to come up with ways to analyse and measure forest trees better.

The main focus is on trying to understand the properties  and quality of the timber in different areas of forest, so that those areas can be harvested as efficiently as possible. Timber is a hugely important part of Scotland’s economy, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and supplying the materials that become everything from homes, to food packaging and fuel. But forests are a precious and limited resource, so areas that are harvested need to go as far as possible.

The challenge is being run through the Scottish Government CivTech programme, a scheme that provides a wide range of resources to support entrepreneurs build a business around their product idea. This means anyone can apply to the scheme even if they don’t have a product or a business already. All they need is a good idea and the drive to make it happen.

Forestry and Land Scotland ran a similar style of challenge with CivTech in 2019 looking at growing trees from seed better. That challenge is already providing very exciting results, from both a scientific and commercial perspective and it’s hoped that success can be repeated again this year.

Josh Roberts, FLS Innovation Manager, said;

“We manage hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest, so despite our best efforts and some already sophisticated techniques, we cannot scale up the mostly manual processes we use for measuring and calculating timber, it would be too time consuming and labour intensive.  We therefore work to general estimates of the timber volume in a given area when planning operations.

“If we could build up a more detailed picture of the make-up of all of our forests when planning across a whole region, it would allow a huge leap forward in our management of the land and really optimise how efficiently the nation’s forests are used, which is the ultimate goal of this project.

“There are a lot of different attributes we would like to know about trees and at different stages of the planning process, so believe there are a lot of different ways this problem could be approached.

“This is an issue for foresters right around the world, so hopefully our latest CivTech challenge is as productive as the last in finding solutions that can be exported wherever there are forests!”

Finding and employing a new tool for gathering this information would help forest planners to identify suitable forest blocks that offer a ‘best fit’ to what is being asked for before any felling takes place, and reduce the chance that we over or under produce when fulfilling an order.

This would reduce the area of forest that needs to be harvested to meet any given demand and so help make Scotland’s forests go further.

A live Q&A session about this challenge will be held on Monday 20th July at 15:00. Anyone interested in the challenge can registering their interest in taking part in the Q&A on the Public Contracts Scotland page for this challenge.

The closing date for applications is Monday 3 August. More information about the challenge can be found online.

 

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