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Software helps land managers see the trees for the forest

Software helps land managers see the trees for the forest

Posting in Environment

Remsoft's land management applications bridges the principles of sustainable forest management, with considerations that help optimize economic return.

When it comes to asset management, things like forests and woodlands are in a league of their own. The seeds or saplings planted this year won't be a harvestable or marketable asset for potentially 30 to 40 years. Forest products and land management company Weyerhaeuser has been using internally developed processes and software to optimize its land use for years. But more recently, over the past decade, it has looked externally to Remsoft, Fredericton, New Brunswick, to help instill an even higher level of sustainability philosophy and resource discipline into its management techniques.

Remsoft's software, which is used by both the private and public sectors, can help a company like Weyerhaeuser or a government agency determine how forests are cut, replanted and managed. The software helps document the software of information needed for environmental compliance. It can also help land management or forestry management organizations guide their own clients and partners as to the best uses for particular pieces of land.

For example, if you consult Remsoft's documented case study pages, you'll find that one of its clients is American Forest Management (AFM). In one recent project, the software helped guide a landowner's harvesting practices in order to improve the rate of return on that harvest by 35 basis points -- and to increase the company's ability to reuse the land in the future.

Another example of a Remsoft client is the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which manages and protect 5 million acres. Two of the tasks that DNR is charged with include fire prevention and timber harvest, along with conservation of habitat for plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Here's what Weikko Jaross, forest operations analyst for the State of Washington, had to say about the software as part of a published Remsoft case study:

"Our biggest gains so far have been increased participation with our field foresters and stakeholders as well as being able to effectively advise our managers on complex issues with increased confidence. Our stakeholders like the transparency of the modeling provided by the spatial utilities and open programming environment. As an analyst, I can show them directly how their concerns for revenues and habitat are built right into the model."

Back to Weyerhaeuser, which has been using Remsoft's software in Canada for about 12 years, in Uruguay for eight years and is now bring the application into its core operating units in the United States. Although the company was at first reluctant to look outside for this technology, its plans to extend the software's use throughout the organization are a testament as to how the application has improved returns. In some cases, Weyerhaeuser is able to return twice as much per acre as its competitors, says Bob Ewing, director of timberland strategic planning, for Weyerhaeuser.

"It allows us to meet our public and regulatory responsibilities, to optimize our economic investments," says Ewing. He adds: "We find that this tool gives us a step up in talking to new clients." Here's a current summary of the company's timberlands status, as reported in its ongoing corporate sustainability disclosures.

Andrea Feunekes, co-CEO of Remsoft, says her company has been successful because it doesn't try to tell its customers what to do with their land, it simply allows them to manage forests and other assets better than the alternatives. "We didn't want to tell people how to manage their land. What we thought we could do is make sure they didn't have to compromise," she says.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure