Experiencing Forestry at the KWF Fair 2024!  

Experiencing Forestry at the KWF Fair 2024!  

Close to a quiet town in Germany that borders the hilly sides of Knüll mountains and goes by the name of Schwarzenborn, the KWF (Kuratorium für Waldarbeit und Forsttechnik) organized once again their renowned forestry fair. As one of the largest fairs of its kind, it only occurs once every 4 years and has become one of the most important international events for forestry, forest operations, wood and wood processing. To draw in a diverse audience, the fair consists of three elements – the expo (forestry machinery and innovations show), a specialist in-field excursion route and a congress with a wide range of expert presentations.  

This year, the fair was held from 19th to 22nd of June and attracted a broad spectrum of visitors from the forest sector, including forest owners, state forest chiefs, researchers, industry representatives, politicians, forest workers, students, and many other interested individuals. As one of the world’s leading forestry fairs, it was no surprise that more than 50.000 visitors were drawn to the tiny town of Schwarzenborn. So were we, Andreas Schuck and Silvester Boonen from the European Forest Institute, to represent Integrate’s marteloscope network and how such demonstration sites and the Iplus tablet-based training software can be applied. The newly installed marteloscope of Neukirchen (EN; DE) directly behind the Integrate Network pavillion allowed for this hands on experience.

Marteloscope of Neukirchen. Credits: Andreas Schuck

The visitors at our site were mainly private and state foresters, silviculture trainers and lecturers, students, and forest owners. Those who were new to the concept could inform and test the Iplus software and perform virtual silvicultural interventions in the marteloscope site. As such, the site illustrated what “digitalisation in the forest” can look like and how it can be useful for capacity building and knowledge transfer. The idea of using mobile devices that run a training software was developed during the course of different Integrate projects for exactly these type of educational purposes. It acts as a supporting tool that enables direct feedback on silvicultural decisions and the associated silvicultural, ecological and economic effects. Visitors, who were already familiar with the concept, such as forest managers, silviculture trainers and lecturers, were still enthusiastic about spotting the numbered trees and exchanging experiences and opinions about possible further developments.  

Integrate Network at KWF. Credits: Andreas Schuck

As the Integrate marteloscope network offers on-site training that combines digital technology, we shared our stand with „Virtual Reality Forestry Training” – a project that develops an even more digitalised alternative for training purposes. It is aimed at users with diverse forestry skill levels, from beginners to professionals. As such, the virtual teaching and learning environment is intended to enable forest owners to for instance practice sustainable, close-to-nature management. Through virtual simulation, one can learn about tree species, assess the condition of stands and forest areas, identify valuable habitats or plan timber harvesting measures and stand establishment. 

During these three excursion days, we had the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of visitors, informing them on the use of marteloscope sites and how to apply the Iplus software for training purposes. We also explained to those interested how they may set up a marteloscope site and in what ways they can be supported by the Integrate Network Secretariat. We handed out a lot of information material as well as our stack of business cards. The future will tell, if we managed to further enlarge our practitioners’ network and receive requests for new marteloscopes sites – we definitely hope so! 

Article written by: Silvester Boonen, Andreas Schuck, Rahel Könen

Featured image: Silvester Boonen