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Estonia’s Timbeter tackles illegal logging with AI

Estonian CleanTech startup Timbeter is reshaping the forestry industry, using AI to transform timber measurement, combat illegal logging, and pave the way for a greener future.

From combating soil erosion to mitigating the effects of climate change by acting as carbon sinks, forests play a critical role in sustainable development. Green transition and digital transformation, therefore, are key components of a sustainable development agenda.

But when it comes to digitalisation, the forest industry isn’t quite where it needs to be yet. Outdated, highly error-prone practices lead to inefficient management of a precious natural resource.

Timbeter is an Estonian CleanTech venture that has set out to change this. The company aims to digitally transform the forestry sector by making timber measurement transparent, efficient, and sustainable. Their AI-powered solution ensures accurate log detection, benefiting the market and, crucially, the planet.

The world’s forests are being mismanaged

30% of timber traded globally is sourced from illegal harvesting, costing the world economy as much as a staggering 150 billion USD a year. Economics aside, that is a massive blow to the environment, with 10 million hectares of forest lost yearly to illegal logging.

“Digitalising the forestry sector is critical for ensuring sustainability and fair trade,” says Anna-Greta Tsahkna, Timbeter CEO. “Monitoring, control, and optimisation of processes save time and resources. Sustainable forestry management is also one the key elements of climate change mitigation.”

The issues plaguing the timber industry in general and timber measurement in particular are manifold, according to Tsahkna. Current manual measurement methods come with errors of up to 30%, leading to incorrect estimates of the volumes of growing forest and harvested resources. Incorrect primary data for net value and carbon stock calculations also increase errors and produce false estimates. Carbon credit control agencies use different methodologies to certify and verify carbon market projects, often amounting to vague and indirect estimates. All of this adds up to little more than very expensive, wasteful guesswork.

Monitoring, control, and optimisation of processes save time and resources. Sustainable forestry management is also one the key elements of climate change mitigation.
Anna-Greta Tsahkna, Timbeter CEO

To combat this, Timbeter enables quick and accurate timber measurement and data management throughout the entire timber supply chain. All measurements happen digitally with the help of a smart device. Data is stored in the cloud, providing a real-time overview of the activities. The solution also helps to improve working conditions and employee safety, maximise the value of each log, and optimise logistics and sales.

By making processes more objective and transparent and enabling better control, Timbeter’s solution contributes to the detection of illegal logging activities.

Timbeter enables quick and accurate timber measurement and data management throughout the entire timber supply chain. All measurements happen digitally with the help of a smart device. Photo: Timbeter

Precision forestry is here to stay

Digitalization in the forestry industry is still a relatively early-stage process—the term precision forestry was first used by McKinsey in 2018 to describe an emerging pattern of using advanced technologies for forest management. “The forestry sector has been rigid in adopting innovative measurement technologies,” says Tsahkna. “Technology can do everything, but almost as important is the willingness to implement it. Many prefer to be followers rather than pioneers.”

Already used in 50 countries, Timbeter has been one of the solutions that has found the right people in the right places—people with the willingness to implement new, innovative technologies.

Based on their experience with measuring harvested timber, Timbeter can safely say that digitalisation and automation significantly increase time and cost efficiency, add accountability, and provide high-quality, reliable data. The company estimates having saved timber industry workers worldwide a combined 150+ years of time, 55+ tonnes of paper, and 120+ tonnes of spray paint, traditionally used to mark logs but made obsolete by Timbeter’s technology.

Technology can do everything, but almost as important is the willingness to implement it. Many prefer to be followers rather than pioneers.
Anna-Greta Tsahkna, Timbeter CEO

“All of this is needed for the optimisation of processes and giving the maximum value to the resources,” Tsahkna says. “It also builds trust between the stakeholders and helps to eliminate fraud.”

Further bolstering the timber industry’s move towards more sustainable practices, Timbeter is also set to help clients comply with the upcoming EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which requires reporting on the origin of timber by providing digital coordinates. By bringing full traceability and transparency into the timber supply chain, Timbeter will also make it easier to comply with the upcoming Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence regulation (CSDDD). “We also help to trace CO2 emissions, as well as long and short-term carbon capturing in wood products.”

The big-picture vision

As the digitalisation of the timber industry begins to pick up some much-needed speed, Timbeter aims for nothing less than remaining at the forefront of that transformation. Over the next five years, the company’s goal is to become a global standard solution for sustainable forest management, contributing to the digital revolution of forestry with the help of artificial intelligence solutions.

“Timbeter will expand the scope of transparent and sustainable forest management and data exchange functions with governments,” says Tsahkna. “Our technology will become a standard solution that helps companies and governments get more detailed information to mitigate climate change, combat illegal activities, and provide more accurate data for better policymaking.”

Timbeter is currently raising a Series A round of 5 million euros to take the next step—scale and expand in their target markets of Latin America, Europe, the US, and Canada. They have their work cut out for them, but judging by the company’s current trajectory, the future is looking green.

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