FORESTRY and Land Scotland (FLS) has launched a new funding opportunity aimed at budding entrepreneurs and innovators, to come up with ways to better analyse and measure forest trees.

The challenge is being run through the Scottish Government Civ-tech programme, and is open to anyone with a good idea, whether or not they have an existing business or product. Entrepreneurs who present the most promising ideas are offered support through the Civ-tech programme to build a business around their product idea.

Josh Roberts, FLS innovation manager, said: “We already use some sophisticated techniques but some of the processes for measuring and calculating timber volumes are still labour intensive and – despite our best efforts – cannot feasibly be scaled up to cover the hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest that we manage.

“Consequently, we work to general estimates of the timber volume in a given area when planning operations. A more detailed, region-wide picture of the make-up of all of our forests would allow a huge leap forward in our planning and really optimise how efficiently the nation’s forests are used, which is the ultimate goal of this project.

“This is an issue for foresters right around the world, so hopefully our latest Civ-tech challenge is as productive as the last in finding solutions that can be exported wherever there are forests!”

Finding and employing a new tool for gathering this information would not only help with better planning but would also reduce the area of forest that needs to be harvested to meet any given demand, FLS said.

FLS ran a similar style of challenge with Civ-tech in 2019 looking at growing trees from seed better.

A live Q&A session about this challenge will be held on Monday 20th July at 15:00. Anyone interested in the challenge can register their interest in taking part in the Q&A here.

The closing date for applications is Monday 3 August.

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