One of Estonia’s most valuable assets undoubtedly lies in its forests, which form the backbone of its economy. However, enhancing the forest industry’s sustainability, transparency, safety and resource valorisation is a pressing concern, not only within Estonia but also on a global scale. We sat down with Timbeter, a local company with an international presence, to explore how we can bring digitalisation to the forest industry, ensuring its sustainability and charting the right course for forest management.
Transparent and efficient forest management
Timbeter presents an AI-based digital solution that harnesses mobile devices to quickly and accurately measure timber and manage data throughout the supply chain, providing the necessary information on the origin of timber. “This will become a crucial element given the new European Union regulation that requires the verification of all imported timber using digital coordinates to prevent the use of materials from deforested areas,” says Anna-Greta Tsahkna, CEO of Timbeter. The company’s vision for the future is a digitalised precision forestry, where every tree is meticulously mapped and detailed information is readily available for each felled tree, whether destined for timber houses, furniture, exports or paper production.
The sustainable forest of the future
Access to precise data enables us to reduce resource wastage, enhance material valorisation and optimise logistics planning, thereby reducing non-efficient CO2 emissions and addressing issues like half-empty or overloaded trucks. Tsahkna cites McKinsey’s findings, revealing that machines under-valorise an average of 3–4% of the material. To illustrate, she points out how suitable material for sawn timber can be found even in stacks of paper wood. “By bringing more data-driven approaches to forestry, we reduce the pressure for increased logging volumes, but we can still build wooden houses,” she adds. On the international stage, Tsahkna cites Brazil as an example where Timbeter collaborates on projects with the local state authorities of Pernambuco and Rio Grande du Norte, using Timbeter’s technology to combat illegal logging and promote transparent forest management.
The availability and reproducibility of accurate and transparent data also contribute to building trust in the sector and eliminating ambiguities in data. Tsahkna underscores the importance of reducing the potential for human errors, whether intentional or unintentional.
Timbeter’s ambitions further extend to reducing spray paint usage in the forestry industry, which is currently one of the largest consumers of spray paint globally, accounting for about 15% of the annual production of approximately 6 billion cans of spray paint. For example, according to Tsahkna, Timbeter’s technology has enabled one company to save a staggering 22.5 tonnes of spray paint per year, resulting in cumulative savings of over 100 tonnes to date.
Ensuring safety in the forestry sector is another critical facet of Timbeter’s mission, as the industry grapples with numerous accidents and Timbeter’s technology helps reduce risks associated with working near forestry machinery.
Contributing to the global green revolution
Tsahkna believes that digitalisation’s impact goes beyond merely expediting processes. However, she highlights that people’s mindsets are as important as the technology itself. “The desire to embrace technology is just as significant, but it often tends to be in short supply. While technology can solve the whole problem, some still perceive the glass as half empty,” Tsahkna explains, adding that digital transformation is about change management, with people, processes and mentality all playing crucial roles.
Digitalisation is unquestionably a cornerstone of the green revolution, and Tsahkna urges us to underscore its positive environmental impact when showcasing the story of e-Estonia. “For example, digital signatures not only save time but also help reduce paper usage and unnecessary car journeys, ultimately reducing the demand for parking spaces. Timbeter, specifically, contributes to bolstering the reputation of the Estonian technology sector in 47 different countries where we have customers, from Chile to Laos,” says Tsahkna. She emphasises the importance of international reach for Estonian companies to enhance competitiveness and inspire other players: “What makes Estonian technology companies special is the need to focus on foreign markets from the very beginning, as catering solely to the small Estonian market is inefficient.”