July 4, 2023

Looking over the forester’s shoulder:
On the trail of the vitality of the forest

Nice walk and a meeting – in the forest
Check the whole video here

Hohenlinden (Germany), June 15th, 2023

Examining the display of her cell phone, forester Lisa Beckert of WBV Ebersberg (German forest association from the area of Ebersberg) looks at it. “Here is the parcel of our customer. WoodsApp shows quite clearly here that there are trees with poor vitality. That means these trees are not doing very well.” She points toward the southeast, where the parcel extends. “I’ve already looked at the affected areas, but I couldn’t see any abnormalities with the naked eye for now.”

Lisa Beckert uses the WoodsApp to check the vitality signals on her customer's parcel.
Looking over the forester’s shoulder: Lisa Beckert uses the WoodsApp to check the vitality signals on her customer’s parcel.

From below and above

The view upwards: are there signs of damage to the tree visible from the ground, e.g. in the crowns?
The view upwards: are there signs of damage to the tree visible from the ground, e.g. in the crowns?

During such inspections, the forester’s trained eye systematically scans the trees: Are there signs of bore dust that indicate bark beetle infestation? Are withered twigs and crowns already visible from the ground, indicating drought stress? If even forestry experts with their knowledge and experience cannot easily confirm whether the signals displayed are correct, there is still a solution: the view from above, with a drone. Benedikt Pointner, managing director of BitApps GmbH, makes this available during a joint inspection of the parcel in question. “We want to see whether our app is right or not,” he says with a wink. His recent experience is that looking at the forest by drone confirms the vitality signals on the WoodsApp map, while no particular features are (yet) visible from the ground. However, there have been those cases where the indicated damage was already evident here.

Pines affected, spruces okay

In the case of the parcel in question, the view from above yields an interesting insight: the signals for the reduced vitality are clearly coming from pines here, while the spruces, which are otherwise so susceptible, present themselves in perfect condition. “The Scots pines have obviously been severely affected by the prolonged drought of recent years,” Lisa Beckert notes. “Insect pests such as the copper engraver and the book printer would attack damaged spruce trees rather than the pines for the time being. That’s why we’re continuing to monitor the situation for now, rather than removing the pines immediately – after all, there’s a chance the trees will recover. However, if we find evidence of bark beetles, we have to remove the affected trees as soon as possible!” the dedicated forester lets us know.

How does WoodsApp help foresters in their daily work?

“First of all, it helps me a lot to see the boundaries of my customers’ parcels on my smartphone,” says Beckert, who takes care of about 500 hectares of forest under forest maintenance contracts – and the number is growing. “And when I see vitality signals in concentrated form in the app, I know which places I need to take care of with the highest priority.” Lisa Beckert and her colleagues then take a closer look at these places. WoodsApp also provides the ability to orient and navigate the forest. “I can now go to the critical places in a very targeted way – that saves me a lot of time!” Beckert emphasizes the advantages of the app.

WoodsApp also supports and relieves the burden of organizing daily work. “I can reduce the number of requests by phone and schedule my work more flexibly thanks to other communication options in the app. For me, that means less stress!” she says with a smile. These communication options include, for example, chat, through which her customers can send her inquiries or share their own observations with her. “This way, I am always informed and happy when forest owners send inquiries. At the same time, however, I can react exactly when it fits into my workflow and can concentrate better on my respective activities. This is particularly important for me on site in the forest,” explains Lisa Beckert.

The friendly forester immediately gives us a few suggestions for improvements that would make her work even easier. This is exactly what we want to do: to understand in detail the requirements of forestry experts and forest owners and to continuously improve WoodsApp in this sense.

Miteinander reden: im persönlichen Gespräch ergeben sich neue Erkenntnisse und Ideen für die Weiterentwicklung der App.
Talking to each other: in personal conversations, new insights and ideas for the further development of the app emerge.

Last but not least: a few words about forest maintenance contracts

Lisa Beckert and her colleagues know from experience that there are more and more forest owners who cannot or do not want to take care of their forest themselves for a variety of reasons – for example, because they have inherited their forest land. This is why the foresters of the forestry associations are very happy to take on this task and look after the forest entrusted to them.

WoodsApp wants to strengthen and promote this connection between forest owners and forest organizations. As in the case of WBV Ebersberg and its customer.

You can find more info about WBV here: https://www.wbv-ebersberg.de

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