Boden Business Park

Boden company shaping the future of forestry

The small company from Boden has become a leader in its industry and plays a prominent role in the development of the forestry of the future. Meet the company’s founder who talks about their journey and the opportunities created by AI technology.

Fredrik Walter takes the stage at Bodenxt Talks to discuss the opportunities and challenges of AI technology. He jokes about how they trained their system to recognize different types of trees, and talks about youths equipped with small cameras running through the forest until they began to dream of tree trunks.

For Dianthus, which he founded in 2000, the technology has helped the company achieve a leading position in data-driven analysis in the forestry industry.

– We are aware that we have a slight advantage over our competitors and we will use this to improve even further,” he says.

Fredrik Walter is CEO of Dianthus. Photo: Dianthus

The idea for the analytics company came after a deep dive into the research field of image and remote sensing, where he studied the possibility of using radar equipment to extract data about the forest.

– I quickly felt that this was something that could also be done from a business perspective. It started as a sole proprietorship, then I met Daniel and it took off.

On the brink of ruin

Daniel Nilede, whom he mentions, is a system developer and co-founder of the company. Their paths crossed by chance while volunteering in a village outside Boden. The conversations sparked a curiosity in what a collaboration could lead to and in 2009 they formed the limited company together.

– We invested and accelerated. At most, we were seven people and had plans to expand when it suddenly came to an abrupt halt,” says Fredrik Walter.

The financial crisis hit hard, and the forestry companies, which were clients of Dianthus, terminated all consultancy contracts. The company was forced to lay off staff, leaving the owners on the brink of ruin.

– It felt like our vision of how we would change Swedish forestry was shattered.

But the duo did not give up. They tested new solutions and developed systems while waiting for the economy to turn around. An investment that has definitely paid off. Today, Dianthus has four employees, spread across different locations in the country, but despite the relatively small workforce, the company is Sweden’s leading analytics firm in the forestry industry. An equation that is possible thanks to AI technology.

Resource-smart solution

The technology is used to analyze a large amount of data over a geographical area. The information comes from various parts. It can involve sensors or cameras that can capture details not visible to the naked eye, as well as public information from authorities and research institutes, or commercial laser images and geodata.
All information is compiled and analyzed in the Dianthus system, resulting in a final forest management plan.

– The system focuses on homogeneous forest patches with similar height, age, and species. There are both biological and technical aspects. But we can also make a proposal on how to transport the timber out of the forest in an appropriate and efficient way.

The mapping means that logging can be carried out more resource-smart from an economic perspective, but also more sustainably from a general aspect.

– A better knowledge of the land, what biological values are there, will also lead to better forestry. I think we will see fewer large clear-cuts and even more well-thought-out logging with less waste,” says Fredrik Walter.

Spirit of the future

Nowadays, the customer base consists of the majority of large forest owners. But even though Dianthus is a local company, their assignments are mainly in southern and central Sweden.

– I don’t really know why this has happened. We would love to do more projects here too. However, we are developing a new AI model that can produce even better yield calculation results already at the harvester. Maybe then we will get more assignments up here too,” says Fredrik Walter.

The future of Dianthus looks bright. The customer base continues to grow, and it is expected that the workforce will also increase. Each new project and innovation reinforces the future-oriented spirit that characterizes the Boden community, where interest and commitment to a green transition are evident.

– There is a forward-looking spirit throughout the municipality that I have missed. It’s really cool. Just look at this event (Bodenxt Talks), how many people have come here and meet across industry areas. Very useful and fun. Every time I go to town, there is something new going on and clearly, we are also carried along and want to invest even more.

Find out more about how the municipality of Boden can help your business grow smartly and sustainably.
Contact Boden Business Park’s business developer, Jörgen Nordqvist here: Link to establish a company

Facts about the forest in Sweden:

  • Sweden’s total land area is 40.8 million hectares, according to the National Forest Inventory. The total area of forest land is just over 28 million hectares, or 69% of the land area.
  • Of the total forest land area, 23.6 million hectares are considered productive forest land. This is 58% of the land area. Of these, around 1.0 million hectares are located in national parks, nature reserves and nature conservation areas. Productive forest land is defined as land that is fertile enough to produce at least 1 m³sk per hectare per year.
  • Half of Sweden’s forest land is owned by private individual forest owners (313 084 people in 2020). A quarter is owned by private limited companies. The rest is owned by the state and other public owners. The largest landowner is Sveaskog AB, owned by the Swedish state, with around 15% of all Swedish forests.
  • The volume of felling, both in absolute terms and in volume per hectare, is highest in Götaland and lowest in northern Norrland. According to the Swedish Forest Agency, the annual harvested volume in 2021 was around 97 million m³sk. (Gross felling, i.e. including parts of the stem that are not harvested). Not unexpectedly, final felling accounts for the largest share of the harvested volume – just over 65%. In terms of area, thinning is the most common felling measure – an annual average of 306 000 hectares per year in 2016-2020. Final felling amounted to 231 000 hectares. Branches and tops were removed from 31% of the final harvested area. The area cleared in 2021 amounted to 445 000 hectares and has almost doubled since the late 1990s.
  • Spruce accounts for 55% of the harvested volume. This can be compared with spruce’s share of the live wood stock, which is 41%. Pine accounts for 33% of the harvested volume, slightly lower than its share of the live stock (39%). The remaining harvested volume consists of deciduous trees (12 percent).
  • The total stock of timber in Sweden has increased sharply since the 1920s, when the National Forest Inventory began and the first reliable data on the country’s forests became available. By the mid-1920s, the total stock of timber amounted to 1,658 million cubic meters (m3sk, forest cubic meters, i.e. the volume of the trunk including bark). Today it is 3574 million m³sk (excluding dead trees). This is an increase of 113%.

Source: Skogen.se


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