Research and development in the forestry industry (especially in northern European and Canadian contexts), increasingly explores how processes of digital automation in the Industry 4.0 paradigm can be implemented and expanded in forest environments for a range of economic and environmental purposes.

Pointe-Claire, Québec, Canada

FPInnovations Forestry 4.0

The Canadian forestry private not-for-profit organisation FPInnovations is researching and developing techniques for Forestry 4.0 automation in forest operations. Forestry 4.0 is primarily oriented towards enhancing the Canadian forest industry, but is also framed in terms of improving sustainability and environmental performance.

FPInnovations Forestry 4.0

Screengrab from a promotional video for Forestry 4.0. Image source: FPInnovations [screengrab]. Retrieved 28 September 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4vhLQ8OEP0

The Forestry 4.0 research and development (R&D) programme aims to tackle challenges in the forest industry such as labour shortages and problems with connectivity in remote forest operations through technological solutions. Involving collaborations with academic institutions and private companies, the initiative proposes to develop internet connectivity in forest environments, bringing together real-time data from satellite imagery, remote sensing, and LiDAR to build detailed forest inventories. The programme is also developing autonomous trucks and harvesting devices using remote sensing and robotics.

What are the terms in which technological initiatives such as Forestry 4.0 envision a more sustainable forest economy? What are the tensions between industrial value creation and other ways of valuing forests, and how what role do processes of datafication play in mediating these tensions?

Ås, Norge


SmartForest is a Norway-based consortium of industry partners and research institutions that seeks to develop and implement digital technologies to increase efficiency, precision, and value in the forest sector. Across different areas such as forest data production, precision forestry, and supply chain traceability, SmartForest use a range of technologies including remote sensing, drones, and AI and deep learning algorithms. Bringing these approaches together, the centre has developed ForestSens, a cloud-based platform that processes sensor data from forest environments and other data along the value chain, and applies AI algorithms for analysis.


A graphic showing how SmartForest uses technology across different forest industry areas. Image source: SmartForest [screenshot]. Retrieved 4 May 2023, from https://smartforest.no/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/SmartForest-Annual-Report-2022.pdf

In its outward presentation, SmartForest strongly emphasises networks connecting industry and research, both within Norway and with international partners including FPInnovations (Canada) and Mistra Digital Forest (Sweden). To what extent do these collaborative networks facilitate multiple (including critical) perspectives on forest industry innovation and the ways that value is constituted and distributed in the forest sector (and forest environments more broadly)?

Stockholm, Sverige

Mistra Digital Forest

Mistra Digital Forest is a programme that connects research on digital technologies to the Swedish forest industry. The programme is funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, and seeks to embed emerging digital technologies in a forest sector that has previously emphasised tradition. Unlike other examples in this logbook, Mistra Digital Forest does not explicitly reference the Industry 4.0 paradigm, focusing more on sustainable development using technologies including lasers, remote sensing, and robotics.

Related Tags

smart forests radio