SAO PAULO: Brazilian startup Treevia, based in Sao Jose dos Campos has developed a remote forest monitoring system named SmartForest, which uses electronic sensors to monitor forest growth in real time.
The system provides forest managers the data required for taking forest inventory by means of remote collection and uses mathematical and statistical methods to estimate forest growth, quality and health.
Data such as tree diameter and height are typically collected manually using sampling techniques. The workforce that performs this service suffers from low technical qualifications and high turnover. The work is tiring, and accidents such as falls or attacks by venomous animals are not infrequent.
“A large company can have 150 to 160 workers just to do this monitoring once a year,” Gasparoto says. “In a eucalyptus plantation, where trees are felled every six years or so, for example, only five manual data collection operations are performed on average,” says forest engineer and Treevia CEO Esthevan Augusto Goes Gasparoto.
The methodology developed by Treevia is based on the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). “The system uses wireless sensors that ’embrace’ the tree like a belt. As the tree grows, the device expands, capturing the changes in diameter and transmitting the data to a web-based platform,” he explains. “If the work is automated, a single visit to the site is enough, just to install the equipment, and we can collect forest growth data every day.”
In addition to data collected from trees, the system extracts data from satellite images. “It’s a perfect marriage. The system combines the terrestrial evidence collected by IoT sensors with satellite data to ensure complete end-to-end coverage of the forest, eliminating flaws due to the human factor,” Gasparoto says.
All these data are then analyzed using machine learning and big data techniques, allowing the generation of reports on which forest managers can base their decisions.
According to Gasparoto, the system entails benefits in all stages of the production cycle. In addition to a reduction in labor cost, the analyses generated by SmartForest enable managers to make more assertive and efficient decisions on forest management in a shorter time frame.