Digitalization for sustainable forestry
The aim of the research project Mistra Digital Forest is to increase the digitalization level in the value chain, and to create digital solutions for a sustainable and efficient forest bio-economy. IVL contributes with the further development of methods for lifecycle analysis, and sustainability assessments for bio-based products.
In dialogue with stakeholders, researchers at IVL in the first stage of the research project have developed indicators which, together and individually, shed light on the sustainability of the forestry sector. The four indicators are biodiversity, climate, and social and economic sustainability.
Much of the work has concerned developing a method where the sustainability indicators can be placed on a relative scale, so they are comparable. By making sustainability assessments for different future scenarios and making visible synergies and conflicts of aims between different aspects of sustainability, decision-makers have access to fact-based decision support. This knowledge is also useful in forestry companies' strategy work. The sustainability indicators have been partly integrated into the visualization tool BioMapp, where users can calculate and analyze sustainability at every step of the processing stage.
BioMapp – an advanced visualization tool
In the first phase of the programme, IVL and SLU (the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) have developed the visualization tool BioMapp. With BioMapp, decision-makers can analyze alternative ways of using forest raw materials, and can see how sustainability is affected at every point in the value chain – from forest to product.
BioMapp is tool for visualizing material flows from forestry. To be able to describe future scenarios for various courses of action in Swedish forestry, and how these affect the rest of the value chain, BioMapp uses forestry data from SLU's tool Heureka. During the first phase, Heureka and BioMapp were integrated, and among other things, the climate impacts of each stage of the value chain were visualized. Integration with Heureka PlanVis means it is also possible to evaluate several aspects of sustainability that are relevant for the production of Swedish forestry raw materials.
Continued development of tools and methods
The programme, led by the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, has run for four years, and there are plans for a second phase to start in 2023. The plan is, when Mistra Digital Forest advances to its second phase, to further develop BioMapp. Among other things, methods to describe the benefit of replacing fossil-based products with bio-based products, i.e. substitution effects, will be developed. And the work on sustainability indicators will continue, with the aim of including the entire forestry value chain in the sustainability assessment.
Fostering sustainable forestry and environmental goals
The knowledge developed by IVL in Mistra Digital Forest is useful in forestry companies' strategy work. It can inform well-founded political decisions, and can point to possible future developments for different types of forestry. The research also contributes to a positive societal change, because the development of more sustainable forestry and its products can help to fulfil several of Sweden's environmental goals, as well as the global goals for sustainable development.
Read more about Mistra Digital Forest on the project website External link, opens in new window.