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UNITE flagship is a competence centre that conducts high-quality research with a focus on societal impact. It is part of the Research Council of Finland Finnish Flagship Programme. The name UNITE stands for “Forest-Human-Machine Interplay” and our motto is “Building Resilience, Redefining Value Networks and Enabling Meaningful Experiences”. 

We want to support the forest sector’s transition to a climate-smart, resource-efficient, multi-functional, and humane biosociety. Our goals include:

  • Enhancing forest resilience
  • Furthering the sustainable provisioning of ecosystem services for society
  • Strengthening the ability of forests to adapt to, and mitigate, climate change
  • Supporting meaningful human-forest interactions now, and for generations to come

Our mission is to advance global leadership in applying versatile forest bioeconomy expertise, novel geospatial technologies, advanced decision-support tools, and gamification.

Our four research themes are Technology, Methods, Decision making tools and Gamification


We develop innovative technologies to create an accurate digital model of the forest with the accuracy of individual trees. We create the conditions for automation of modeling, the digital twin of forests and the collection of accurate data for decision-making. We enable development by improving the usability of mobile laser scanning sensors and smart algorithms.

“More accurate forest information enables planning of forest management so that the most useful trees in terms of carbon sequestration and biodiversity can be left in the forests. We demonstrate the forest inventory down to the level of a single tree in the metsä service and develop decision-making in the harvester in cooperation with companies”

Professor Juha Hyyppä, the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute at the National Land Survey of Finland, the leader of the research theme


We develop agile and user-friendly knowledge creation methods on individual trees, the relationships between trees, and between forests and the environment, based on multitemporal remote sensing and forest data. We also produce data on forest biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide, as well as monitoring data on changes in tree cover and landscape at varying time scales. Given the uncertainties associated with these characteristics, the knowledge can be used in decision-support tools.

“To ensure the sustainability of forestry, decision support systems need both data and research-based knowledge on which indicators are needed to describe the state of nature, water and climate, human well-being, the economy and the acceptability of forestry”

Research professor Annika Kangas, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the leader of the research theme

Risk-sensitive tools support decision-making

To support decision-making in forestry, we have developed research-based systems, models, and tradeoff analyses. Planning for the use of forests is hampered by various risks, such as wind and insect damage, and uncertainties. The effects of these will be incorporated into systems, models, and decision-making tools. A new kind of decision support tool combines the spatial and landscape level goals of forest owners.

“With the help of life cycle assessment (LCA), we comprehensively support decision-making in different and novel situations”

Associate professor Antti Kilpeläinen from the University of Eastern Finland, leader of the research theme


Solving the ecological crisis requires a wide range of new knowledge and literacy about the nature. In addition to knowledge and literacy, we need to engage people with nature and motivate them to live more sustainably. By gamifying and exploring forest experiences and interactions, we create new innovative ways to strengthen both human relationships with nature and sustainable forest management in the areas of learning, well-being, knowledge creation and business.

“Robots and artificial intelligence make it is possible to find new ways of playing with and in forests, and to encourage people to co-create knowledge about nature and to experience nature together”

Professor Juho Hamari, Tampere University Gamification Group, leader of the research theme

research themes and who to contact

Technology – Disruptive technologies for capturing forest ecosystem structure and functioning​, leader Juha Hyyppä

Methods – Agile knowledge creation from​ the forest data, leader Annika Kangas

​Decision support tools – Smart decision support for human actions in space and time, leader Antti Kilpeläinen

Gamification – Gameful forest interaction for meaningful experiences and practices, leader Juho Hamari

Captain of UNITE Heli Peltola