University of León's DRACONES group provides digital support to two poplar management companies

The DRACONES Research Group, located on the Ponferrada Campus, is formed by researchers with more than 15 years of experience, who work on the development and application of solutions in the areas of forestry and the natural resource management. The excellence of the work of the group’s geomatics and forestry engineers and its inclusion among the 14 ULe research groups that are part of the DIGIS3 HUB, have led two companies to engage in a collaboration service with the DRACONES researchers, coordinated by Professor Flor Álvarez Taboada.

DIGIS3,is a consortium made up of six entities from Castile and Leon (ULE, IoT-DIH (Air Institute), DIHBU, and DIH-LEAF, the Castile and Leon Supercomputing Centre (SCAYLE) and the Institute for Business Competitiveness of Castile and Leon (ICE)) who will work over the next three years to promote the Intelligent and Sustainable Digital Transformation of SMEs and public administrations in the region. 

Within this consortium, the DRACONES group will develop an advanced workshop on the 3D technologies available for the quantification and estimation of the volume of standing poplar wood for the Garnica company. This workshop will include classroom training (fundamentals, case studies, data processing and analysis), as well as data collection in the field with remote sensing sensors, such as the mobile laser scanner. In addition, a proof of concept will be developed to transfer this type of tools based on remote and near range sensors, as well as wood growth and production simulators, to the company. Garnica is a wood processing company specialising in the production of plywood from sustainable plantations and one of the global leaders on this market. Garnica has an estimated turnover of 350 million euros and is located in the five main poplar plantation basins in Europe. With more than 1,200 employees, the company has seven production centres, five in Spain (one of them in Valencia de Don Juan, León) and two in France.

Within the DIGIS3 framework, DRACONES is also going to provide advanced mentoring to the Bosques y Ríos company, for the use of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence in the monitoring of tree stands, through training in the available geomatic technologies, the installation of sensors, monitoring of the collected data and of the monitoring systems and analysis of results. This company manages 2,200 hectares of poplar groves in the Ebro and Duero basins and is currently the national benchmark for clonal trials. The sustainable management of its poplar groves is endorsed by the two main Forest Certification systems, PEFC, and it has also been collaborating for 15 years with the main research centres involved in the genetic improvement of poplar and studying the adaptation of clones developed in Europe to the conditions of the main poplar plantation areas in Spain.



The lines of work of the consolidated DRACONES Research Group cover remote sensing, 3D reconstruction, forest inventory, study of natural resources, sustainable land management and documentation of cultural heritage. The group, made up of geomatics engineers and forestry engineers, has several years of experience in the verticalisation of solutions, transferring theoretical knowledge to applied solutions in the forestry and natural resource management sector.

The research activity of the DRACONES group consists of the application of geomatics and geoinformatics for the acquisition, modelling and analysis of spatial characteristics of almost any type of scenario, always focused on the generation of models that support the decision-making processes of specialists and managers.

The digitisation of processes is a key aspect for improving work and production lines, reducing costs and increasing traceability thanks to more precise knowledge. In the case of forest management and precision agriculture, this digitisation starts from minute zero by achieving a precise and exhaustive mapping of available stocks, not only in terms of cubic metres, but also in terms of their state of health in order to predict their evolution.

The DRACONES group is focused on the management of natural resources, helping advance the knowledge of commercial forestry plantations, which predict their growth and production through 3D sensors. In addition, thanks to satellite data they monitor their health and prevent future damage. It also has successful experiences in the transfer of knowledge to companies, such as the Chopo4D poplar clone growth simulation tool (, the TreeAlert early warning system for forest plantation damage, or the AppPopuli tool, which uses citizen science to create a database of poplar tree damage.

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