AirForestry and Sveaskog enter into partnership

The Swedish State Forest, Sveaskog, has signed an agreement with the Swedish start-up company AirForestry to do thinning with a drone for seven years, starting in 2028. The agreement is an important step toward digitalization and technical development of forestry machinery. It’s also a possibility to decrease negative environmental effects. 

Future logging? Photo: Sveaskog

AirForestry and Sveaskog enter into partnership

You may have noticed, dear Reader, that I request “giant steps” in developing forestry machinery. I still claim that the major machine manufacturers have been busy doing fine-tuning on machines they developed 40 – 50 years ago. The machines have looked the same since then, more or less and only a few small entrepreneurs have tried to achieve major changes to the traditional concept. But those inventors/entrepreneurs have had tough times convincing the forest industry. 

Log Max Harvester Heads

One of those entrepreneurs is the Swedish start-up company AirForestry which we wrote about two years ago. Their concept is based on harvesting forests with drones in a system where no machines ever touch the ground. Now that’s what I call a giant step. 

Seven years of thinning from the air

The Swedish State Forest, Sveaskog, informs in a press release (in Swedish) that they have agreed with AirForestry to conduct thinning with drones in seven years starting in 2028. Sveaskog sees the partnership as an important tool to bring forestry into the future. In cooperation with AirForestry, they wish to develop solutions and take on the difficult challenges forestry is facing. 

“To create conditions to do thinning with drones would be revolutionary, to say the least. Furthermore, it will decrease the risk of ground damages,” says Erik Brandsma, CEO at Sveaskog. 

As for AirForestry, it’s a golden opportunity to develop their products and solutions. It seems that AirForestry has secured the future, at least for a while. Finding good partners that are ready to take risks for development is hard, and one of the big problems for small inventor companies like AirForestry. 

Almost like in the “good old days”

I refuse to say things were better in the “good old days” because they weren’t. But this reminds me of something a now retired forestry machine salesman told me from the 70s. I think it was the manufacturer Kockums (now included in the giant John Deere company) who had a demonstration of a new type of harvester. It was a prototype, and they made a special demo for some boss at the Swedish State Forest (then called Domänverket). 

The big-head didn’t say a word during the demo. When it was over, he headed back to his car, still silent, but just as he opened the car door, he turned to the Kockums people and said: “We’ll buy 15 of those just to try them.” 

The conclusion is that it was easier to finance the development of new machines back then. 

Is it possible – will it work?

Of course it’s possible! 

“We” put the man on the Moon over 50 years ago! We can control vehicles on Mars today and build small societies in space (space stations), etc.! This is nothing compared to that. But it will take patience and money, lots of both, and eventually it will work – this concept or something just as exciting. 

The interesting thing now is that also the forest industry, in this case, Sveaskog, has decided to have a serious look at another solution. A solution that is far away from today’s forest machine systems. I sincerely hope that other players in the forest industry follow this good example. 

I wish to see the next giant step in the forest machinery development before I die! 

Good Luck AirForestry! I hope you make it. 

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