Monday, 03 April 2017 10:22

Drones over forests approved

The County Administrative Board has approved Södra’s application for a permit to use drones all over Götaland. The aim is to make inventories of storm-affected forests safer and more efficient.

"We are happy about the County Administrative Board’s decision. The use of drones makes field work in forests safer, more time-efficient and comprehensive. It’s a good example of a new solution in the move towards digital forestry," said Johan Malmqvist, Project Manager, Södra Skog.

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Following a decision by the County Administrative Board of Kronoberg, Södra is now permitted to use drones over the forest estates of its 50,000 members in Götaland. One of the aims is to make inventories of storm-felled forest more efficient. Previously, personnel had to walk through forests to find and record windfalls. The permit to use drones will also improve the regeneration potential of next-generation forest.

"Today’s tree regeneration could be the answer to a fossil-free tomorrow. Tools like drones could become very important for quality assuring the roadmap toward a future bioeconomy," said Johan Malmqvist.

Previously, plot sampling was used to determine the number of new seedlings across the entire regeneration area. Total inventories were impossible because of the time involved, but drones will now make this possible. Any sparsely planted areas that can be difficult to see from the ground will instead be identifiable from the air.

Protection of personal privacy guaranteed
In October 2016, the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the use of drones was covered by the Camera Surveillance Act.

Authorisation is conditional upon the protection of personal privacy. Södra is required to inform the public that a drone will be flown by putting up signs, for example, or informing residents in the area before flying a drone.

"Privacy will be ensured by not activating the camera until the drone reaches a certain height, making individuals impossible to identify. Should anyone still be in the photos, we will delete the material immediately. In many cases, we will only be using the camera for observation, not for photos, to make a general survey of the forest area," said Johan Malmqvist.

Södra was founded in 1938 and is the largest forest-owner association in Sweden, with a membership of more than 50,000 forest owners. We engage in modern and responsible forestry, and operate state-of-the-art mills in which we process our raw material. Through value-generating relationships and a long-term approach, Södra is leading the way for the next generation of forestry. 

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