(12/15/2022 / sbr)

Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch: AI application for identifying storm and insect damage

Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch, a company in the application of artificial intelligence to forestry, are jointly developing an application based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and open data for identifying and visualising storm and insect damage.

“Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch aim to provide an application that will add to the digital material we use, for example in maps that indicate storm and insect damage,” says Olli Leino, Director, Digitalisation, from Metsä Group’s Wood Supply and Forest Services.

In their joint project, the companies are developing an application that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret remote surveying data and observe any damage caused by the European spruce bark beetle and storms. The goal is for the application to identify bark beetle damage in spruce forests before it is visible to the human eye.

“Advanced technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning help us offer deeper insight into the wellbeing of forests, and especially into forest change, faster than ever. The impacts of climate change can already be seen in our forests, and we’re pleased with this opportunity to develop a completely new service for improving the wellbeing of our forests with a forest-sector forerunner like Metsä Group,” says Jarkko Lipponen, CEO of CollectiveCrunch.

Helping forests remain healthy

“It is important to Metsä Group and our owner-members that forests remain healthy and vibrant. We’re now using digitalisation to keep forests healthy and provide our owner-members with an entirely new service,” says Leino.

The European spruce bark beetle is about half a centimetre long and threatens spruce forests, in particular. It has caused significant damage in Central Europe and Sweden. Bark beetle and storm damage is expected to increase in Finland as the climate becomes warmer.

“By updating the maps indicating damage caused by the European spruce bark beetle several times over the summer, we can detect damage in time, see how it progresses, and contact the forest owner to jointly prevent the spread of damage. The new application also improves our ability to quickly identify the scope of storm damage and the areas that have suffered the most. This enables us to quickly move harvesting equipment to where they are needed to harvest the damaged trees,” says Leino.

Earlier this year, Metsä Group introduced an application that makes extensive use of open data, Metsä Group’s own data, and machine learning to estimate growing stock data. In the case of storm damage, the number of damaged trees can now be safely estimated without surveying the entire damaged area.

The map data on bark beetle damage will be available in the map applications used by Metsä Group’s wood supply personnel and in the Metsäverkko service for owner-members.

Metsäverkko is an online service offered by Metsä Group to help forest owners manage their forest assets. Some of the services in Metsäverkko, such as the future map data indicating storm and bark beetle damage, are only available to Metsä Group’s owner-members.