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Forest information standards

Forest information is standardized so that operators in the forest sector can develop and use interoperable information systems. There are numerous concurrent and consecutive operators in the forest value chain who must exchange information when planning and implementing measures.  

Most basic concepts and units of measurement in forestry have been broadly defined for decades, but in time each operator has implemented them in its own information systems in its own way. This has made it difficult or nearly impossible to convert and transfer data from one system to another. Forest information standards facilitate both the use of open data and the transfer of information between operators. This will improve operational efficiency and the international competitiveness of the forest sector. 

Objectives of standardization

In the forest information standardization, industry operators receive ready-made XML schema definitions, which are utilized in information systems. An XML schema is a commonly agreed way to describe information in an information system. The aim is that, using co-prepared schema definitions, the information systems of different operators can, if necessary, use the same input data and exchange information with each other. The aim is to improve the cost efficiency and competitiveness of the Finnish forest sector.  

One of the objectives is to make forestry more efficient in Finland by standardizing to promote the transmission of information needed in forestry operations. The aim is for information systems that support standards to enable operators to deal with as many different types of forest owners and authorities as possible using electronic information. Without standards, manual data processing steps and complicated data conversions would often be required. 

In Finnish forestry, forest ownership and the planning and implementation of measures are often the responsibility of various parties. The objective of forest information standardization is also to enable standards-based information and compatible information systems to be used at different stages, such as: 

  • acquisition of forest resource information  
  • forest planning  
  • forestry-related trade  
  • the implementation of the measures and the utilization of the updated information generated by the measures  
  • official notifications  
  • the collection of statistical data. 

In this way, representatives of different organizations can act at different stages of forest management and timber procurement without problems related to data transmission and incompatibility of information systems. 

Developing standards

In forest information standardization, a group of people (the so-called preparatory working group) made up of representatives of forest operators meet regularly to discuss the form in which forest information in information systems would be presented so that all forest information systems understand it. The purpose is to define the data transmission structures used in electronic data transmission between information systems. 

Solutions based on standards and open interfaces have proven to be an efficient and cost-effective way to implement information systems. The standardization work for forest data mainly defines XML schemas that enable standard-form electronic data transmission, the cost-effective implementation of information systems and the construction of a functioning information infrastructure for the forest sector.  

Forest information standards are already used in several information systems, and the preparatory working group actively cooperates with forest application developers in the development and maintenance of the standards. However, the actual application development is being done outside of this non-profit standardization work.