“The forest needs innovation and technology: rePLANT has already registered patents in five countries.”, Expresso

ePLANT is a project led by the paper company The Navigator Company and the association ForestWISE, which is dedicated to researching and developing technologies for forest management and fire prevention. Carlos Fonseca, Chief Technology Officer of ForestWISE, revealed to Expresso SER the main innovations of this laboratory that is already in its third year.

Figures from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests show that 36% of Portuguese territory is occupied by forest, with eucalyptus (26%), maritime pine (22%) and cork oak (22%) being the species that occupy the largest forest area. Altogether, the wild spaces (which include forest, brush, unproductive land and inland water areas) cover about 70% of the country and the management of all this territory poses major challenges in terms of fire prevention and fighting, pest risks and invasive species, as well as the need to monetize the soil.

It was to try and put technology at the service of solving these and other forestry-related problems that this project emerged three years ago, bringing together more than 20 entities, from major companies in the sector to universities and innovation laboratories. This consortium is led by The Navigator Company and ForestWISE, a non-profit association that promotes integrated forest and fire management, and it was with the Chief Technology Officer of this collaborative laboratory that Expresso SER reviewed the three years of activity of this project.

You have already invested 5.6 million euros to support research and innovations in this area. And what are these innovations? For example, a system was developed to monitor the integrity of the assets of REN and the forest, which consists of the installation of a set of devices and sensors in the field that provide information in real time. Or smartphones that perform a forest inventory or estimate and monitor the amounts of biomass present in a given forest area.

Carlos Fonseca has a PhD in biology from the University of Aveiro and is currently ForestWISE’s Chief Technology Officer and guest associate professor at the Department of Biology, University of Aveiro.

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