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Radio-Tech Deployed for Forest Sustainability in New Zealand

Technology is changing almost faster than we can keep up, with new smart technologies changing the way we live and work, a never-ending stream of useful new apps to download for our phones, and the advancement of artificial intelligence improving how we use information. Technology has had a significant impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Many environmental and social problems have been caused by technology, but it is also crucial to addressing environmental degradation, climate change, food scarcity, waste management, and other pressing global challenges.

Technologies are numerous and diverse, with numerous implications for the forest sector. Because of technological advancements and innovations, the forest sector is constantly changing. However, in the literature on the forest sector, technology, and its role as a major driver of change in the management, utilisation, conservation, and even devastation of forest resources is rarely analysed in a comprehensive and explicit way.

Sustainable forest management is increasingly important to ensure the long-term future of New Zealand’s forests and to meet a growing market demand for sustainably produced timber.

To address this, a cutting-edge radio-technology system is assisting New Zealand’s City Forests in working more safely and efficiently while adhering to COVID-19 work requirements. The system was initially deployed to replace an outdated analogue radio network, but it now provides numerous additional benefits. Contact-free communication and social distancing in the field are examples, as is the elimination of the need for drivers to exchange paper job dockets in favour of a digital docketing system.

The new solution combines four digital two-way radio repeaters with another radio dispatch software that provides valuable data and safety features, allowing workers to be located wherever they are in the forest. The system also allows workers to exchange other important job details such as truck numbers, log quantities, and crew ID numbers without using their hands. All these solutions are integrated and linked to a digital network radio core provided by New Zealand’s power distribution company.

City Forests manages over 23,730 hectares of forest in the Otago region, planting over seven million trees while adhering to high sustainability standards and certifications. To ensure the safety and security of workers and recreational forest users across such a large area, instant, dependable, and secure communication is required. The Forest Production Manager for City Forests said his organisation has experienced many benefits by migrating to an advanced digital communication system.

“Upgrading our network to digital not only enabled clearer voice communication but provided us with other useful features like text messaging and GPS capability,” said the Forest Production Manager.

“Moving to a digital platform also gives us the option to plug in further capabilities to improve safety in the future,” he then added.

The telecommunications provider channel General Manager for Australia and New Zealand also mentions how the evolution of digital radio technology is assisting enterprises in increasing collaboration and performance across their entire operations. She stated that businesses have always relied on radio systems for clear and consistent voice communication but now they are getting many more safety and productivity-enhancing features.

Digital radio solutions are also extremely adaptable, allowing businesses to respond to rapidly changing situations. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, these solutions assist organisations in keeping their operations running and their people safe.

Technologies outside the forest sector may also contribute to sustainable forest management by reducing pressure on forest lands to be converted to other uses, alleviating demand for forest products, and expanding options available to forest managers. The most important technologies for sustainable forestry are those that help improve communication among stakeholders and allow for informed decisions at scales ranging from the gene to the ecosystem.

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