How We Created The Most Comprehensive Silviculture Planner Ever

Prior to the launch of Silvacom’s Silviculture Planner, we were using an aspatial tracking system called Silviculture Online. At that time we had a different version of this system for each client, which made updates and enhancements quite challenging. Silviculture Online had passed its life span and something had to be done, so we got to work and created what is today; one of the most comprehensive geospatial silviculture planning and reporting tools around.

Silviculture Online was essentially being used as a reporting tool for government requirements (i.e. the Alberta Regeneration Information System (ARIS), which requires yearly identification of aspatial treatment areas of all silviculture activities to be submitted yearly).

Silvacom recognized a need from our clients – they were looking for something more. They wanted to move beyond these legislated reporting requirements to do actual planning and scheduling of silviculture activities (e.g. planting, site prep, stand tending, regen surveys, performance surveys, etc.). This would offer them the opportunity to take advantage of cost savings through geographic efficiencies. They also wanted to be able to track spatial information related to these activities to have a better historical record of the treatments they were applying every year.

The Development Process

For the first time ever, we used a co-operative approach in the development of a web application. Existing Silviculture Online users united to help us build one application that would meet everyone’s needs, providing stakeholder input from over five leading forestry companies. With over 100 years of silviculture planning experience at the table, we knew the development of this new application would be an exciting and worthwhile task.

During the requirements gathering phase, we identified two major tasks related to silviculture activities as both cumbersome and time consuming: Liability Reporting and Strata Balancing.

    • Liability Reporting is providing the total estimated cost of all remaining silviculture activities required on all harvested blocks, such as site preparation or tree planting.
    • Strata Balancing is the process of balancing planned reforestation (by forest species type, or “strata”) to the total area of each strata harvested. This becomes very complex when you have over 10 strata across hundreds of cut blocks.

Both of these reports are required on an annual basis by the provincial government in Alberta.

During the development phase, we set about ensuring our new Silviculture Planner application would be able to handle these complicated and challenging tasks. The result was better than expected; what previously took a forester weeks to complete could now be done in a matter of hours.

A Feature-Rich Forestry Application

The Silviculture Planner application provides sophisticated data management of all silviculture activities, with the ability to spatially plan, schedule, budget, record, edit and store all silviculture activities. It includes the automatic generation of prescribed silviculture activities, full spatial editing capabilities for all activities and the ability to import spatial data from external sources.

Advanced features include:

    • A wealth of generic reports to summarize the data (e.g. planting reports, liability report, etc.)
    • Easy to use strata-balancing functions.
    • ARIS validation and submission at the click of a button.
    • The ability to order and allocate seedlings by seedzone.
    • Scheduling orders of photography for performance surveys.
    • Making bulk data changes quickly and easily.

Auto-generated establishment regimes, such as silviculture prescriptions based on the dominant strata within the block, ensures that the users are acting according to their Detailed Forest Management Plan commitments. These auto-generated activities act as a place holder for the user to evaluate whether or not the activity should be completed. The system also allows the user to store a decision not to complete a certain treatment.

Administrators can manage the user roles and permissions to ensure staff have the ability to view or edit the appropriate areas (i.e. a summer student might only be allowed to edit certain attribute fields). This application is fully integrated with our Harvest Tracker application and ensures data continuity, making it completely seamless. Nothing falls through the cracks; as soon as a skid-clearance date is entered in Harvest Tracker, the block is identified as “cut” and is updated instantly in Silviculture Planner.

Silvacom’s Silviculture Planner became the first application in Silvacom’s FMS (Forest Management System). Silvacom’s FMS now also includes the following applications:

  • Harvest Planner
  • Spatial Viewer
  • Harvest Tracker
  • SHS Manager
  • Maps Online
  • Spatial Data Exchange

A Redesign that Works

Solving problems in order to make our clients lives easier is what we do best in Silvacom. We knew our silviculture planning application needed to be designed from the ground-up to meet the demands of foresters today – and become the most helpful silviculture planning application on the market.

The feedback we’ve heard from users has been fantastic with comments like “we really value the liability reporting and strata balancing functionalities and how much real time these functions save us” and “the integration of web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) tools empower even non-GIS experts to make spatial edits.”

We’re excited that this application is making an impact in silviculture planning – making things easier to plan, manage, and track. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today to see how Silvacom FMS can specifically fit your needs and help save you time and money.

For more information on Silvacom’s Silviculture Planner see: