KOKO Forest emerged victorious at the Ultrahack: Beyond Dead Wood Hackathon on March 9th, showcasing a dynamic team comprising forest health expert Samuli Junttila, ecologist Hannah O’Sullivan, remote sensing specialist Antti Polvivaara, and machine vision expert Einari Heinaro.

Organized by Business Finland’s Data Economy programme, Ultrahack, and supported by partners such as Metsäteho, Location Innovation Hub, Geoforum, Arbonaut, and Sitra, the hackathon rallied participants to harness AI, remote sensing, and forest ecology to safeguard Europe’s precious native woodlands.

Nine international teams converged for two days of intense competition, each diligently striving to devise solutions for conserving forest biodiversity. Our team set out with a bold ambition: to craft an innovative, scalable, and robust biodiversity index, synthesizing diverse data sources to provide a nuanced estimate of forest biodiversity and conservation significance.

Challenging prevailing methodologies that often favor simplistic indicators like species count, our approach aimed to redefine how biodiversity is assessed and valued. Leveraging aerial photography alongside complementary datasets to determine the amount of aspen and deadwood in the forests. Why we used aspen and deadwood as biodiversity indicators – because of their critical role in supporting a myriad of forest ecosystems.

The biodiversity index we developed not only offers a tangible means to assess biodiversity but also provides invaluable insights for forest managers, companies, and investors. As ecologist Hannah O’Sullivan aptly notes, “This hackathon helped us develop our business plan. The pitching sessions helped us keep our idea clear and communicate better to business people.”

KOKO Forest Team

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