KOKO Forest’s innovative technology revealed 2.5 million dead trees in 3.2 million hectares of Estonian forests, battling the destructive European spruce bark beetle.

Estonia’s lush forests face a severe threat from the European spruce bark beetle, a tiny but devastating invader. Estonia is not alone with this ecological crisis. Bark beetle has already caused extensive damages in central Europe during recent years. The warming climate is creating optimal conditions for the bark beetle to multiply faster and cause more extensive damage in the Baltic and Nordic countries as well.

KOKO Forest deploys cutting-edge technology to analyse forest health and tree mortality using aerial imagery and deep learning. “We have the technology to acquire accurate near real time information on tree mortality” says Samuli Junttila, the Lead Scientist of KOKO Forest. “Our analysis can cover wide geographical areas quickly and efficiently, making our service a game changer. We can provide accurate tree mortality status down to individual dead trees for Estonian forest owners or anywhere in the world.” Junttila continues.

Map of total tree mortality within the grid cells. The red colour indicates a higher amount of dead trees. The imagery has been collected between 2019 and 2022.

A close-up view of tree mortality in central Estonia, Valga area.

An aerial image shows detected dead spruce trees and their geolocation.

The European spruce bark beetle burrows into spruce trees, introducing fungi that disrupt nutrient and water flow, ultimately leading to tree death. The ecological damage caused by bark beetles in forests around the world is insurmountable. Economic damages in recent tree deaths for Estonian forest owners is estimated to reach at least 30 – 40 million euros. “Information is the key. We want to offer forest owners and interested parties accurate information to help fight the problem and preserve biodiversity for future generations.” Junttila finishes.

KOKO Forest provides up-to-date information on the condition and health of forests from anywhere in the world. Tree mortality has increased nearly exponentially in every continent of the world due to climate change. Bark beetle outbreaks have caused devastating losses both ecologically and economically. The economic value of a forest stand can decrease by 80% during a single year due to a bark beetle outbreak and we provide the information that helps to mitigate these losses.

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