To fully understand the importance of sustainable forest management, it's best to first understand the environmental and economic value of its crop.

Yes, trees are a crop.

For some, that is a difficult statement to understand, because trees are not like corn or soybeans. Once harvested, it takes years — not months — before the next harvest is ready.


There is no better asset in the fight against climate change than trees. Forests purify the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and reduce the planet's carbon footprint by storing carbon while releasing oxygen. In fact, almost as much carbon is stored in forests (650 billion tons) as is in the atmosphere (760 billion tons).1 And, when trees are harvested and turned into building materials, that carbon is sequestered, making for a long-term storage solution, as one cubic meter of lumber can hold one ton of CO2 for an average of 20 years.2

But harvesting doesn't mean leaving an empty shell in nature. On the contrary, as application of sustainable forest management principles has increased, so has the available crop. According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, there are six-percent more living trees in forests in North America today than there were in 1990.3

This is largely because, as a renewable resource, sustainably managed forests are maintained and regenerated as part of multiyear harvest cycles that can continue into infinity and provide an endless supply of wood, fuel, and paper products. Proper forest thinning, soil maintenance, and clearing of dead trees also aid in new growth and can help lessen the impact of fires. Without thinning and cleanup, much of what fuels a forest fire is now at ground level, easily ignited, and rapidly spread. Economically, forests account for $500 billion in products annually,4 with a global economic value estimated at $33 trillion a year.5 Beyond simple lumber or paper, trees contribute to products used in nearly every facet of our daily lives, including bedsheets, disposable diapers, oil filters, baseballs, cricket balls, life jackets, linoleum flooring, charcoal, and home insulation. And the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) claims 25 percent of the world's population — more than 1.9 billion people — rely on forest resources for their livelihood (e.g., construction, recreational uses of land, and timber harvesting).6


John Deere technology helps customers balance rugged demands with environmental concerns. For example, by utilizing TimberMatic™ Maps and Intelligent Boom Control (IBC), a logging operation not only gets the most from the crop but reduces the impact on the environment around it.

TimberMatic Maps leverages Deere's leading GPS technology to create a map-based production-planning and -tracking system. The software allows a contractor to set up a central command center that monitors all locations and tracks downed-tree placement — even when buried in snow — while minimizing disruption to environmentally sensitive areas. Alerts can be established so operators will be notified if they get too close to these designated locations.

This technology also allows for the design and real-time communication of the harvest plan, which means customers spend less time per load due to optimized path planning, increased load efficiency, and reduced driving distance per load. This can help reduce the number of passes a machine makes in the forest by up to 15 percent, which aids soil health and regrowth through reduced compaction.

John Deere innovation also makes workforce management easier for our customers. By simplifying complex tasks and movements on the machines, a larger variety of operators with varying skill levels can operate the machines and still deliver optimum results, all while spending less time on a job. Used by harvesters in the felling (or cutting) stage and on forwarders for extractions, IBC is a technology that enables operators to control the boom on our machines as if it is a human arm. The controls used for reaching and securing trees for harvest intuitively mirror how that piece of equipment might function if it was actually the operator's arm. This allows the operator to be 10-percent more efficient, which translates into both fuel and time savings.

To understand the impact of these technologies, consider a model worksite operation in the Scandinavian forest. Here a logging operation and its team are harvesting 2,500 cubic meters, which takes the team about 11 days to complete on average.7 By combining these technologies — TimberMatic™ Maps and IBC — this customer can save approximately $3,000 in operating expenses, reduce fuel usage by up to 156 gallons, and time on site by up to 40 hours. These outcomes reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two metric tons (equivalent to eliminating 4,900 to 5,000 passenger vehicle miles). All in just 11 days, on just one of many jobs completed throughout the year.


1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),
2 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),
3 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, page 46, Table 36,
4 The Business Research Company, Forestry and Logging Global Market Opportunities and Strategies Report, products-market.
5 Rainforest Alliance, What is Sustainable Forestry, https://www.
6 United Nations, The Global Forest Goals Report 2021, https://www. Goals-Report-2021.pdf
7 Using Deere technology and Wheeled Cut-to-Length Equipment on 2,500- cubic meter Scandinavian worksite, operating two shifts per day, average 11 working days to complete harvest
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