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The “Tree Talker” system: monitor of health of plants and forests

31.10.2018

The “Tree Talker” system: monitor of health of plants and forests

Umbria, the small land-locked Italian region at the very heart of Italy, has experimentally adopted the Tree Talker system to monitor the health of forests. Without doubt this is an example of Forests 4.0, where thanks to the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) system trees can “talk”. Through the project TRACE (Tree monitoring to support climate Adaptation and mitigation through PEFC Certification), born from the collaboration between PEFC Italia, the certification body for forest management certification, and the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) is possible to get information on the single tree health. At the moment, the experimental phase involves a 146-hectare PEFC certified forest owned by the Margaritelli family. The "speaking" trees are 36, in three distinct areas of the property. Each tree is equipped with a sensor package to collect data on different eco-physiological parameters: water flows, growth in diameter, quantity and quality of foliage, respiration, health and mortality of trees – to check the reaction of trees to human activity and climatic conditions.

The aim of the project is to improve the current certification systems and monitoring of forests and tree plantations through the application of the latest generation Tree Talker based on IoT (Internet of Things). Thanks to this system the entities already certified for sustainable forest management (or the ones which aspire to be part of the certification system) can receive information about trees and be aware of their health situation. Moreover, by using machine learning algorithms, GIS tools and cloud computing, it is possible to analyze data coming from plants and obtain detailed and personalized information.

"The sustainable management and certification of forests play an increasingly important role due to the fragile condition of terrestrial ecosystems, which are heavily impacted by climate change”, states Riccardo Valentini, Member of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change. “Having the right tools to measure the ability of ecosystems to store carbon or be resilient to environmental changes is key to improving the quality and profitability of forest management. "

Text adapted from an article originally appeared in the Italian news "La Stampa".