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[Coillte] Connecting the Boardroom with the Forest Floor

Background

Coillte is Ireland’s largest commercial forestry company and operates in forestry, land based businesses, renewable energy and panel products. Established in 1988, the company employs approximately 1,000 people and owns over 445,000 hectares of land, which is about 7% of Ireland's land cover. Coillte’s core purpose is to enrich lives locally, nationally and globally through the innovative and sustainable management of natural resources.

Challenge

In 2010, a number of factors coincided to cause Coillte to undertake a review of its forest management planning approach, including a renewed commitment to value-based asset management, increasingly complex regulatory requirements, challenging and evolving forest certification standards and tightening supply for customers. Coillte's key to successful planning and execution remains in the hands of good local management; however, by 2010 the planning burden was reaching critical levels. Some forest managers were using up to 24 distinct spatial data sets and accompanying rules to determine the shape and timing of felling coupes. Coillte’s five-year forest management plans were taking up to nine months to complete, but only tackled a limited number of goals. They also relied largely on forest managers’ expertise to achieve the right balance and satisfy all necessary objectives and constraints. 

Solution

Coillte saw the benefit in introducing a forest resource planning system that would use optimization techniques to devise strategic, tactical and operational plans for field operations and to aid in the achievement of short and long-term goals. In 2010, Coillte issued a request for tender for vendors to supply a software that would drive the company towards improved strategic plans with multiple scenario analysis, improved planning agility, improved resource deployment and decreased planning costs. Following the tender process, Coillte selected Remsoft and partnered on a series of projects to improve resource planning, better manage sustainable development and save on costs.

Why Remsoft

  • Remsoft knows forestry and has been used by global clients for more than 24 years to manage nearly 500 million ha of land.
  • Designed to tackle these challenges, our solutions provide a complete and elegant system for forest management planning driven by powerful optimization.
  • The Remsoft Solution Suite provides enormous flexibility to incorporate timber growth and yield functions, silviculture, products, management constraints and objectives that may be unique to each country or region.

The implementation was conducted in stages. Initially, Coillte ran a year-long project to redraw business area unit boundaries from 13 down to eight in order to ensure each could be independently financially viable. Another year was spent using Remsoft technology to value the entire estate and pass scrutiny of international forestry and financial experts and auditors. After three years, the strategy was brought to the forest floor where plans were reviewed and edited by forest managers before becoming operational, a process supported by one of Remsofts key analytics modules. This ground truthing cycle was a key part of the project to ensure the planned results were realistic, operable and supported by the forest managers.

“In using Remsoft’s technology, we now have a stronger strategic perspective on forest resource management and the ability to make better decisions based on fact-supported analysis.” 

- GERARD MURPHY, COILLTE FOREST MANAGING DIRECTOR

Iterative Implementation Cycle

Using the intuitive capabilities of the Remsoft Solution Suite, Coillte was able to loosen constraints and manipulate parameters to test different model behaviour and results. Because the underlying optimization technology is ruthless in seeking out optimum outputs within defined constraints, this is critical.  It enables multiple scenarios to be run and explored, exposing the correlation between constraints and outputs, and ultimately producing rewarding and sometimes surprising insights into the forest resource and its management. 

The relative importance of the inputs can also be tested.  In Coillte’s case. it revealed need to improve the forest inventory for some of its younger crops. The sensitivity of the quality of potential discrepancies in the inventory helped build a case for a refreshed inventory strategy which has begun to produce significant benefits for Coillte.

“Forest managers face significant demands on their time, intellectual and financial resources to practice modern, sustainable forestry management. Balanced decision making for even ten or twenty hectares can be challenging, and at the level of the forest holding, the sum of these individual plans may be missing its full potential. Remsoft equips managers with insights to make better decisions leading to more desirable outcomes.”

MYLES MCDONAGH, SILVALYTICS FOUNDER [FORMER HEAD OF RESOURCE PLANNING AT COILLTE]

Results

The Remsoft implementation has enabled Coillte to evaluate the impact of environmental, managerial and economic changes on its operations. It has also enabled them to track long-term carbon sequestration and remain in compliance with environmental certification programs. Remsoft’s technology has helped Coillte to meet the global demand for Irish wood exports more efficiently 2009 and recently published a long term timber supply forecast based on Remsoft technology. Coillte has also seen several financial improvement areas, including a reduction in contracting costs in the construction of new roads among others.

About Remsoft

As a global leader in land-use planning solutions, Remsoft helps companies to unlock their land’s value, gaining insight into how land assets are being used and could be used in a more environmentally, ecologically or financially sustainable manner. This makes the Remsoft system one of the most powerful and widely used optimization products available today.

About Silvalytics

Silvalytics is Remsoft's Partner in Europe and was founded by Myles McDonagh, who managed the Remsoft implementation at Coillte. Silvalytics is a leading forestry advisor and problem solver in Ireland, the U.K. and Europe, combining extensive industry knowledge in large commercial forestry operations, as well as major commercial resourcing and outlay decision making.

Contact Us

For more information on Remsoft solutions or Silvalytics services, contact us at info@remsoft.com or remsoft.com

Connecting the Boardroom With the Forest Floor.pdf

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