Consulting foresters – whether they be solo outfits or large organizations – need a powerful but easy to use forest inventory software solution. The variability that we see in terms of how consulting foresters perform their jobs cannot be modeled– the sampling error is too huge. There are those who think to themselves “Doesn’t everyone do it this way?”, and those who perform forestry and timber cruises in radically different ways, even in the same region or state. Three years ago, we started with a relatively basic set of capabilities that satisfied about half of foresters right out of the box. We gradually complete arsenal of forestry software tools and features. After a couple of years, we had a solution that accommodates probably 90% of foresters, and we call that Forest Metrix 2.0.
Forest Metrix can be used for something as simple as a basal area cruise for timber stocking levels and species composition, or a complete evaluation of volumes by multiple products, sorting by status levels or any other user-defined variable, and detailed log-sort reports. You can quantitatively or qualitatively record other ecological features or inventory, such as pathogens and invasive pants species.
Given the changing demands of clients and the dynamic nature of the timber markets, you need to have flexibility, as you might want to move into a different practice area that shows growth. Certain regions’ timber markets are doing quite poorly, and foresters are thinking about other services they can provide if it becomes more difficult to move timber.
In addition to forest inventories, forest management and timber sale administration, foresters are completing forest health data surveys (non-native invasive plants, pathogens, damage), natural resource inventory – such as conservation easement baseline monitoring, even carbon cruising and custom projects for large organizations. Thankfully, Forest Metrix allows for so much flexibility that you can satisfy all of these needs in a single program.
In this age, spending $3,000 on a dedicated data logger is generally wasteful and unnecessary. Foresters and outdoor professionals of all stripes have been carrying smart phones and tablets with them for years. When equipped with a proper waterproof case for field use, an iPad is a far more versatile and powerful business tool than a Windows Mobile data logger. There are no data loggers that can be had for less than twice the cost of an iPad, and the most common data logging hardware costs five times that of a ruggedized waterproof iPad.
Not only are they expensive, but the hardware platform and Windows Mobile operating system is so inaccessible to most foresters that the device often sits in a drawer.
There is not enough time in your work schedule to spend a great deal of time learning a new program. Time is precious, and you don’t want to spend weeks becoming fluent in a new piece of software. That is why we offer unlimited support for the first month. We spend as much time as you need to ensure a successful transition. We use screen sharing services to do personal, one-on-one training.
Forest Metrix is straightforward and easy to learn. It offers easy touch screen data entry and simple language. There are no hidden menus or complex functions, and no need to be a technology expert. Help buttons are everywhere, and clients tell us our documentation is great. Most users become comfortable with the program in about an hour, and one or two cruises is all it takes to become fluent. In other words, the transition to Forest Metrix is smoother than ever.
How Forest Metrix works:
Forest Metrix is a database that runs on Apple iPads or iPhones, or on a Mac or Windows 7/8/10 machine. All of the data entry and analysis happens here. Once a timber cruise or inventory project is complete, an Excel spreadsheet of the timber data gets emailed to your desktop, and you open the Forest Metrix Report Engine. This Excel workbook is a bunch of code that imports your data and creates a series of reports and pivot tables. These can be published as-is, or manipulated by the user to perform pretty much any sort of filtering, sorting, and analysis.
In addition to the Forest Metrix reports, all of your data can be exported in .xls, .csv, .tab, or .kml (GIS) files, making the program extremely easy to use in conjunction with other programs. There is no black box.
Additionally, FileMaker software is available for every desktop operating system. This means that you can set up cruise files and templates in the office, and email these cruises directly to your iPad or iPhone, or that of your devices that might be deployed with your partners. Cruise files can be backed up to the cloud whenever you have internet access (using Dropbox, for instance), and users can still use wired connections to move files from their device to the desktop, if wireless internet access is limited.
In only 3 short years, Forest Metrix has been deployed in 35 states and a few other countries. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a brief live demo over the web to see if Forest Metrix is a good fit for you.