Climate change and biodiversity loss are among the challenges that the forest sector has to grapple with. This means that innovation is very critical for the future of forests as the sector seeks to advance solutions to these and the problems in the future. But what does innovation really mean, and what does it entail? It can be simply defined as the process of implementing a new idea and creating value for your target, which could be stakeholders, companies, and or individual customers. Innovation can take different forms and shapes; it could be an improved product or service or an updated method for running operations, or a new business model. With the role FOREST EUROPE plays in the forest sector in the pan-European region, we consider this topic very important, and it is on our agenda thus are cooperating with many players in this field and continue to further extend our collaboration.
But who are the innovators in the forest sector? The Future Forest Initiative prides itself on being Europe’s first sustainable innovation hub for forest and climate and comprises of 512 Network Supporters; 103 Startups, and 48 Startup Mentors. The Initiative is made up of three elements: Future Forest Community to support innovative ideas for the forest of the future; Future Forest Accelerator to support startup innovations until they are ready for the market; and Future Forest Forum, which is an event for innovations in the context of wood and forest.
Blankenburg Castle: Venue of the 2023 Future Forest Forum
On 8-9 September, approximately 300 innovators converged in Blankenburg, Germany, for the 3rd edition of the Future Forest Forum to exchange ideas and perspectives and to inspire each other to rethink their forest management approaches and take actions centered around innovation for a sustainable forest sector. Start-ups from Germany and other countries in Europe showcased their innovations, which touched on a wide array of forestry topics such as:
- Early wildfire detection done in real-time and alerting local stakeholders about confirmed ignitions.
- Early bark beetle detection and alerts on bark beetle outbreaks.
- Ecosystem Service-Based Value Chains-mushroom growing in logs to provide forest owners with additional income.
- Digitalization & Automation in timber trade, inventories, regenerative nature-based solutions.
- Carbon sinks-Aerial photography and Artificial Intelligence to offer companies local climate projects.
- Bio-based materials for construction that combine both the sustainability of wood with the performance and productivity of advanced composites.
- Bio-Technological Solutions where AI is used to speed up seed quality control through dynamic bioassay analysis.
- And many many many more…
It is inspiring to see the innovations happening in the forest sector, a sector that has for many years been criticized as being outdated and unable to keep up with the trends in digitalization. The significance of these innovations is being acknowledged by different stakeholders. As such, the theme of the 2024 International Day of Forests will be “Forests and Innovation.” At FOREST EUROPE we are looking forward to continuing with the conversions on how to highlight the innovation potential of the sector, give visibility to the innovations taking place and the opportunities and challenges that these innovations bring. We will, therefore, continue to cooperate not only with the Future Forest Initiative but with many more actors in this important field, such as the Bioregions Facility of the European Forest Institute, Forest Technology Platform, the WoodPoP Initiative among others.
Do not forget to join us for the webinar planned to celebrate the International Day of Forests and promote the theme of forests and innovation!