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Fibria uses novel technology to have 3D view of the forest
Fibria, the world’s leading producer of eucalyptus pulp from planted forests, is ramping up investment in forestry technology. Through the Smart Forest Project, several initiatives have been put in motion across all units of the company. One such initiative is the use of the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, a novel initiative in the country to measure areas, terrain and trees for inventory, which reduced the cost of monitoring and updating areas by 12% and also enabled the implementation of many modernization projects, which resulted in a 1.2% increase in Fibria’s planted area.
In practice, LIDAR enables a three-dimensional view of the forest by capturing data with laser instruments onboard small airplanes flying over vast areas in shorter time intervals. With the help of GPS devices installed on the plane and the ground, in addition to an inertial sensor coupled to the laser unit, data is collected and sent for analysis by specialized software.
The LIDAR technology was first implemented at Fibria in 2011, in the interior region of São Paulo state. It enabled testing that brought detailed topographic information on terrain, helping the Geoprocessing and Production Planning and Control (PPC) areas in managing planting and harvesting operations. The company has since been improving the use of the tool.
“This technology makes monitoring more agile and accurate, besides increasing the safety of teams that head out to the field for measurements, as they need to cover shorter distances. The data collected is fundamental for managing the forests. These indicate the quality of the base and possible areas of degradation, providing support for decision-making and in conservation plans,” says Luiz Eduardo Sabbado, manager of Forestry Operations Development at Fibria.
In the case of harvest microplanning, for instance, the work time was cut down by about five times, as 90% of the field stage, which was previously done manually, was replaced by the new system.
The equipment was essential for implementing mechanized harvesting in areas with inclination of up to 33º in the interior region of São Paulo state, with digital maps on terrain data providing greater safety for the harvesting operation.
After the advances in mechanized harvesting, LIDAR enabled a new step in forest inventory. In 2015, the first test was carried out in São Mateus, Espírito Santo, and afterwards in Capão Bonito, São Paulo. Now we are taking the next step. “We are organizing ourselves to fly over 320,000 hectares this month, out of a total area of more than 460,000 hectares of the forest base in Mato Grosso do Sul, the company’s largest,” says Sabbado. The plan is to fly over all areas of Fibria from 2020 to take 100% of the inventory using this technology.
The analysis of the data collected by LIDAR translates into important information to maintain excellence in forest management and to obtain certifications.
Based on a diagnosis, Fibria structured the management of forest digitization initiatives in the Smart Forest Project. Led by the Forestry area, a data collection, communication, analysis and supply architecture was created, in which all actions of new technologies are centralized in the Smart Forest Project.
The implementation of new technologies will be on four fronts: planting, harvest, wood logistics and systematic data analysis. Over 50 projects have already been implemented. In addition to LIDAR, Fibria invested in the acquisition of telemetry-equipped trucks, among other initiatives.