Institute of Wood Science and Technology and Hitachi India collaborate on SMART Forests

Hitachi India, a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd, and Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST), an institute under Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt. of India have collaborated to implement a SMART Forest initiative. Hitachi India has undertaken this project as a CSR activity and is deploying IoT technology towards e-protection and conservation of high value forest species like sandalwood and rosewood.

The project entails a feasibility study to develop a solution for timely detection and prevention of unauthorized axing/ chopping-off of valuable trees, which would indirectly monitor the health and growth of these trees, thereby contributing to the social goal of conserving forests and protecting flora and fauna and providing a sustainable solution to meet this objective.

Hitachi India and IWST signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last year towards implementing the SMART Forest initiative. The collaborative CSR research project is being carried out at Rural Bangalore/IWST campus Malleshwaram Bengaluru. Hitachi is funding this as a CSR initiative and also has deployed its Hitachi Anomaly Detection To Prediction and Prescription (HAD2P) technology for monitoring and detection of illegal cutting and movement of high value trees. The IoT sensors have been deployed by Atto Communication which would send the disturbance information and location of tree. Hitachi’s HAD2P technology analyses the disturbance to the trees and alarm is triggered which intimates the concerned authority to take precautionary actions.

Sri Surendra Kumar, The Director, IWST said, “Sandalwood is recognized worldwide as one of the most valuable and economically important commercial tree species. Development of protocol for microchip based e-protection system for valuable trees will help to conserve and enhance the status of these precious bio-resources of the country. In an attempt to curb possible extinction of Indian valuable trees, increased interest by both forest departments and private growers towards expansion of plantations has added to the resource building of this valuable tree. This research project is to develop solution for monitoring and standardize the e-protection system of valuable trees. By implementing this project, IWST will be the first institution in the country to have tried such an e-protection system for valuable trees to standardise the e-protection technology and develop the protocol for its commercial adaptation through public-private-partnership.”

Mr. Gnaneshwar Kambali, General Manager – Digital Solutions and Services Group, Hitachi India said, “This initiative is aligned to Hitachi’s Social Innovation Business in India. As a company, we wish to support the society and preserve environment by offering innovative and novel solutions. This CSR project is an amalgamation of leveraging our business and technological strengths such as IoT, to create disruptive transformation for the environment, and the society at large. We feel privileged as being chosen the strategic partner to implement this project with IWST and contribute towards achieving major objective (i.e. conservation of forest) set forth by the Government of India.”

Project team members from IWST:
V. Soundara Rajan, Scientist
Sri. G. Ravi Kumar, Research Officer
Sri. M. Srinivasa Rao, Chief Conservator of Forest
Dr. K. Murugesan, Chief Conservator of Forest

The Indian sandalwood tree is becoming endangered and smuggling of sandalwood has created socio-economic (deforestation and forest conservation) and law & order problems. Despite efforts by forest department, illegal cutting and smuggling of sandalwood continues unabated. The Government of India estimates the sandalwood market to be Rs. 10,000 Crores annually (approximately US$2 billion) and losing some thousand Crores of rupees in smuggling as reported by police department. Government is designing various methods to control this menace of sandalwood smuggling. To increase the effectiveness of govt effort, there is a need for an automated system for longer lasting solution to Indian sandalwood conversations.