FOREST 4.0 Project to Digitalise Forest Operations

To establish a Centre of Excellence to transform the forest environment monitoring, data acquisition, and analysis, and capture value from the collected data – this was the goal set by the FOREST 4.0 project partners at the project kick-off event held at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) on 10–11 May.

According to the project leader, Dean of the VMU Faculty of Informatics, Prof. Tomas Krilavičius, FOREST 4.0 aims to contribute to the Lithuanian Smart Specialisation Strategy by developing an innovative forest-based Lithuanian bioeconomy through the digitalisation of forest operations. “FOREST 4.0 will promote a science-based contribution of sustainably managed forests to the achievement of the EU Green Deal and some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and the transition to a circular and sustainable bioeconomy through the provision of innovative data collection and processing applications,” said the representative of VMU.

Prof. dr. Tomas Krilavičius

The Centre of Excellence in Smart Forestry will carry out the highest level of research. “Our main objective is to create a Centre of Excellence in forest-related Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things technologies to develop and promote innovative data-based solutions for forestry management throughout the entire value chain, from forest resource management to end-products. The Centre of Excellence will seek to mobilise and involve interested parties not only in Lithuania, but globally,” Prof. Krilavičius described the project.

The kick-off event was attended by honoured guests who gave welcome speeches: Rectors and Vice-Rectors of VMU, LNU, and KTU, officials of the European Commission, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania, and Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, representatives of the Kaunas City Municipality, the Vice Mayor of Växjö Municipality (Sweden), and many others.

The kick-off meeting also discussed the challenges in developing the Centre of Excellence in Smart Forestry in Lithuania and why this sector needs attention from scientists. Researchers and industry partners had a great opportunity to share good experiences in forestry management, future perspectives, visions from different angles and identify the needs to cooperate with different stakeholders: industry, ministries, local and external stakeholders, etc.

The kick-off event was followed by a meeting of the project partners, during which the team discussed the candidates for the Advisory Board, the research strategy, the working plan for each WP, etc.

The project budget amounts to almost €20 million (€9.9 million funded by the European Commission and an equal amount by Lithuania). The duration of the project is 6 years.

Project coordinator – Vytautas Magnus University, leader – Prof. Tomas Krilavičius.