Impact News

On March 21st, 2024, the global community commemorates the world’s forests within the framework of “Forests and Innovation: New Solutions for a Better World.” The need to accelerate innovation for forest ecosystems has never been more urgent than it is now. Forests hold value as the cornerstone of life on earth; however, significant challenges persist in jeopardising its very sustenance. 

A 2023 report by The Forest Declaration Assessment¹ stated that gross deforestation worldwide in 2022 accounted for 6.6 million hectares, one-fifth greater than the baseline needed to halt deforestation by 2030. Shedding light on this alarming rate, it endangers 80% of terrestrial biodiversity², triggers socio-economic backslides, and threatens many invaluable lives. 

With regard to this pressing matter, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the Russian Federal Forestry Agency will conduct a scientific and practical conference. The conference will primarily highlight the digitalisation of the forestry sector, artificial intelligence (AI), and biotechnology in forestry, as well as advanced approaches to forest restoration, all of which are novel technological advancements.

To elaborate on one of the prominent innovations, the development and application of AI have rapidly expanded to many sectors, including forest management and silviculture. With the help of machine learning and deep learning, AI embarked on one of its initial implementations to be used for rule-based reasoning for the identification of tree species and their disorders³. 

In the present day, AI has been widely used in assisting forest monitoring and remote sensing assessments, estimating forest productivity from growth and yield models (e.g., MATRIX by FACAI and FAO), mitigating forest fires, conserving biodiversity (e.g., AI-powered camera traps), evaluating carbon stock, and mapping customary forests as well as Indigenous lands. Furthermore, the application of other scientific disciplines has had a significant impact on the advancement of forest innovations. Biotechnology has steered modern forestry towards a highly efficient and productive means of breeding and production⁴. 

Additionally, the policy sector has proactively implemented measures to amplify nature-based solutions through forest restorations. A prime example is the payment for ecosystem services (PES), a government instrument that has proven effective in promoting sustainable management of forests and other natural habitats⁵. Notably, in Indonesia, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has innovated a launch of three information systems that digitise forest product accounting, online non-tax state revenue, and timber legality⁶. The Indonesia Stock Exchange (Bursa Efek Indonesia/BEI) has also developed an authorised carbon exchange mechanism called the Indonesian Carbon Exchange (IDXCarbon) in support of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of this country. 

Furthermore, the development of IKN Nusantara, Indonesia’s new capital city, demonstrates the idea of a “smart sustainable forest city.” It aims to achieve more than 75% green cover while adhering to principles like zero deforestation, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable forest management. It also emphasises carbon stock enhancement, community engagement, and improved land use management7.

IKN Nusantara is committed to promoting the development of smart and sustainable forest cities through the integration of various technologies. These include fundamental smart city technologies, such as telecommunications networks, data centers, and cybersecurity measures. Supporting technologies include the Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving cars, and urban air vehicles (UAVs). Moreover, IKN Nusantara uses smart city computing technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital twin simulations, and biometric technology to improve its sustainability efforts8.

In conclusion, these initiatives have further upscaled the benchmark for future innovations in the forest sector. Although many parties have been at the forefront of forestry advancement, innovators are strongly encouraged to consider ethical concerns regarding technology’s utility. Given this, while modern intervention in forestry should always strive to be universal and practical, it must mainly be based on moral grounds.

 

References: 

1 Liang J and Gadow KV. 2023. Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Forest Research and Management.
2 WWF. 2023. Forest Pathways Report 2023.
3 Haupt F, Matson D, Rynearson A, Long G. 2023. Off Track and Falling Behind: Tracking Progress on 2030 Forest Goals by The Forest Declaration Assessment.
4 Niu S, Ding J, Xu C, Wang J. 2023. Modern and future forestry based on biotechnology. Modern Agriculture: 1(1): 27-33.
5 Tedesco AM et al. 2022. The role of incentive mechanisms in promoting forest restoration. Phil Trans R Soc B 378: 20210088.
6 CIFOR-ICRAF. (2022). Kehutanan 4.0: Inovasi Teknologi pada Sektor Kehutanan. https://forestsnews.cifor.org/76453/kehutanan-4-0-inovasi-teknologi-pada-sektor-kehutanan?fnl=
7 Otorita Ibu Kota Nusantara (OIKN). (2023). Cetak Biru Kota Cerdas Nusantara. https://www.ikn.go.id/storage/thd/blueprint/cetak_biru_kota_cerdas_nusantara.pdf
8  Lampiran Salinan Peraturan Presiden (PERPRES) Nomor 63 Tahun 2022 Bab III (Prinsip Dasar Pembangunan Ibu Kota Nusantara) tentang Perincian Rencana Induk Ibu Kota Nusantara. https://peraturan.bpk.go.id/Download/201663/3.%20Lampiran%20Salinan%20Perpres%20Nomor%2063%20Tahun%202022%20(BAB%20II).pdf 

 

Written by: 
Ilham Setiawan Nur (EAFOR Programme Officer) 
Michael Hutahaean (Programme Officer)
Edited by: 
Chelsea Patricia (Academic Officer)

The post Forests and Innovation: Commemorating the International Day of Forests appeared first on Resilience Development Initiative.

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