Finnish open forest data system enormously popular

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Finnish open forest data system enormously popular

April 18, 2019 - 06:37
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The Finnish open forest data system, launched in March 2018, has become enormously popular.

Anyone can view data on forest site conditions and timber stock from 60% of Finnish forests, with no passwords required.

The Finnish system contains two types of open forest data: data on timber stock and growth conditions arranged on the basis of what is called a grid, and data on forest compartments. The imaginary grid is formed of 16 x 16 metre squares in the forest. A forest compartment is an area in the forest with homogeneous vegetation and soil conditions.

The grid data covers 60% of Finnish forests, including protected areas. „Within two years, the coverage will reach 70 percent and later, after the next inventory, even more,“ says Jorma Jyrkilä, in charge of forest data services at the Finnish Forest Centre.

The data on forest compartments covers only private, family-owned forests, which, however, form the major part of forests in Finland. Of these forests, 92% is covered by the data, related to harvesting, state aid to forestry and forest sites under statutory protection.

What you cannot find in the open forest data is who owns the forest. This can be accessed through another service, but only if allowed by the forest owner in question. The open forest data is gathered by means of laser scanning and aerial photography. A guide to interpreting it is based on measurements on sample plots.

The data can be viewed in three ways. First, data on individual sheets of the topographic map or on maps covering individual municipalities or regions can be downloaded. One can also simply browse the data or use it directly through a special interface.

„It’s been really popular. We have seen over three million map downloads in just one year,“ says Jyrkilä. One of the purposes of the open forest data system is to provide a basis for developing new tools for forestry and other forest-related activities.