Today, forestry data is mostly proprietary and therefore hard to find, difficult to access and poorly interoperable. Forest owners and practitioners rely little on data and have had no access to the data of others at all. Without reliable data, it is very difficult to conduct data-driven research and make decisions in a fast-changing environment. This limits the discovery and adoption of best practices.
The goal of the Forestry Data Space (FDS) is to improve the availability of high-quality data for private or public decision-making processes and to foster open innovation that has an impact on the environment.
The comprehensive scope of the FDS encompasses a diverse range of data, including forest management data, data on climate and soil, on tree species distribution and tree health, as well as in situ sensor data. The FDS currently covers Germany, but it is planned to extend it to Europe. Providers share their specific stand-level data, over which they retain full control. It is well-defined who can access which data for what purpose. As an example, the whole data pool can be used to train AI models that forecast tree health – if the provider’s usage restrictions allow such an application A lot of the information is considered sensitive, because sharing it can have economic or environmental impact. This data is protected through access control, anonymization and other policies. All these mechanisms are implemented based on IDS standards.
Furthermore, the FDS will contain smart services such as AI-based Decision Support and is expected to include marketplaces for forestry equipment, trackable timber trade and jobs, and other integration. Data sharing along the whole value chain will be made easier, reporting will be simplified, and better decisions regarding climate adaptation and biodiversity can be made.
To ensure data interoperability, the FDS defines a comprehensive vocabulary and builds on open data formats, which are accessed via industry-standard APIs. The vocabulary defines ecosystem services that a forest can provide and links all relevant information down to the basic indicators such as soil chemistry, elevation, or tree health. Users can input in their data into these structures and formats via automated or semi-automated procedures.
As of today, we have successfully deployed a minimum viable data space, processed and added most of the basic data sets, and implemented data integration procedures. Different stakeholders are involved in the design of the forestry data space through workshops, interviews and acceptance tests. We expect a first productive version of the FDS to be ready by the end of 2023. In 2024, they intend to align it closely with other data spaces, such as the Green Deal Data Space defined by the EU.
Through the Forestry Data Space, risks related to climate change can be mitigated and revenue can be protected or enhanced, especially considering carbon capture and other incentives. It also contributes to biodiversity and to the social and recreational functions of forests. Thus, the value of the decision support given through the data space exceeds economic returns.