Regina Gensinger


Open Forest

field research

decentralised data

system design

Open Forest is an open, decentralized network that allows forest data to be stored in a transparent and long-lasting way. It provides a digital platform that enables different actors to work together towards a sustainable future for Swedish forests.


Skogstekniska Klustret (The Cluster of Forest Technology)


MFA first year @Umeå Institute of Design


Marie Spreitzer, Mina Rostami

my responsibilities

Research,  Analysis, System Mapping, Concept, Filming/Cut


Supporting sustainable decision making in forestry

As Swedish forestry moves towards "zero impact" forestry, there is a growing need to establish continuous cover forestry. However, this makes the work for the harvest operator more demanding. Therefore, we aim to support operators in making appropriate and sustainable decisions, leading to a system that is less overwhelming.

[main research insight]

Continuous cover forestry will play a crucial role in achieving zero-impact forestry. However, sustainable forest management is complex and requires long-lasting feedback mechanisms and collaboration to succeed.

Choosing the right trees while thinning is the most difficult task.
Harvest Operator


Closing the gap of information loops

We worked together with various partners, experts and students

To investigate this area further, we conducted ethnographic research on four harvest operators and ten operator students. We worked together in co-design sessions with various partners, including forestry experts and machine manufacturers.

... to close the gap of information loops.

Our research indicates that there is a lack of feedback loops during the harvesting process and the exclusion of multiple stakeholders from that process.

To address these issues, we propose a design that transforms the currently linear phases of planning, doing, and feedback into a continuous, circular workflow.

Open Forest:
A collaborative and decentralised network

To ensure continuous data flow and transparency through the procedure, we designed a system that brings together forest owners, managers, and stakeholders to collaborate on sustainable forest management.

Get to know Open Forest by an exemplary user flow

The scenario: a new harvest operation is planned

Different people are using Open Forest


A divers range of stakeholder can join Open Forest on their phones. They can comment on the map in the planning phase but also give feedback.


The planner uses Open Forest to create a more accurate cutting plan and takes other stakeholders’ interests into consideration.

Harvest Operator

The harvester operator  sees the information as an augmented reality vision inside their windshield.

The forest owner starts the harvesting operation

A determined group of people  receive a notification after the harvest operation was added

People of interest (biodiversity experts, representatives) getting an invitation to look at a newly harvesting area on their phones.

They have the possibility to add comments

They now have the chance to add comments and state their interests.

And help to improve the quality of planning

An increased quality of planning provides the potential to reduce the cognitive load while harvesting. The planning person reads the comments while walking through the forest and prepares a cutting plan. They use a tablet to  mark different trees through an augmented reality feature so that the harvest operator knows which ones they should leave or which area they should not drive over.

Thorough planning supports sustainable harvesting decisions

While the harvester operator is operating, they see through the windshield relevant informations to support them in sustainable decision making.

Open Forest updates the map in real time and is publicly available

The updates give the stakeholders and the public community a chance to see what is being cut. They can now provide feedback on how happy they are with the cutting, which helps the company improve its collaborative practice.

A socio-technical system design

Multi-level perspective of the design process: seeing the work in the forest as part of a system

To enable forest workers to work more sustainably, it is necessary to equip them with the appropriate tools. However, the entire system must become more sustainable so that it provides the tools with the right information.

Exhibition and Experience Prototype

Our final result is based on the interconnectivity of different devices. We displayed those touchpoints in an exhibition for interested viewers to experience how the system works together. People could act as stakeholders, comment and give feedback. These comments would then show up at the planners display in real-life. There the viewers could mark different trees which would then be visible in our constructed harvester. It was a great way to showcase the complexity of the system.


How we got there


Sustainable decision-making in forestry

How can the operator be supported in making better and more sustainable decisions while harvesting without being overloaded with information?


Sweden is heavily reliant on forestry for its economy. Forests and forestry provide job opportunities for both men and women, particularly in rural areas. They are also important for climate change mitigation as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, the work is demanding for machine operators, particularly those operating the harvester. The operator is responsible for planning and executing the harvest activity, which includes navigation within the harvesting site, tree selection, bucking of the tree stem, and considerations regarding biodiversity, waterways, soil damage, and cultural heritage sites.

Design brief

As Swedish forestry moves towards “zero impact” forestry, there is a growing need to support operators in making appropriate and sustainable decisions. The development of new decision support systems is increasing the information load for operators, leading to a demand for a system that is less overwhelming.


To gain a better understanding of the harvest process, the operator’s experience, and the forestry industry, we conducted interviews, observation, and contextual interviews.

Research methods and our participants

We conducted interviews with four harvest operators and five students, visited learning facilities, spoke to forest experts, shadowed forest work on side and visited the manufactures Komatsu and Vimek.

Structured analysis

We analysed all the material we collected from the field trip and derived the following insights:

Continuous cover forestry will be crucial, if we want to manage forests sustainable.

“Continuous cover saves the biodiversity of the forest.” - Forest Expert
"Swedish citizens will request to have mixed forests and therefore forestry has to be more selective in their work.” - Employee, Leading Position in Forest Company

Long lasting feedback mechanism are not established yet.

Mapping out the process reveals a gap in the transfer of information between the end of every circle and the beginning of the next one. That should be addressed to create a circular process, reducing the complexity of each cycle.

“Today, it is a problem that we do not know what is in the forest. We have a rough idea after thinning, but the state of the forest in terms of biodiversity remains unclear. We cannot follow up because we do not know what the forest was like before. Currently, there is no data available, and there is no incentive to improve in the next cycle.” - Forest Expert

Therefore processes and forest work become more demanding.

From the harvester operator's perspective, selecting the right trees is the most difficult and crucial task in sustainable continuous cover forestry. The operator would benefit from a supporting system.

“Choosing the right trees while thinning is the most difficult task.” - Operator

Moreover, the voices of all stakeholders are not always heard in the process, or their needs are not given equal weight.

“Currently, forest owners are required to consult with the Sami people before planning a harvesting operation. However, they are not required to communicate with or inform the local community.” - Forest Expert
“A lot decisions happens through their good willing.” - Forest Expert

Opportunity area

We then identified the following opportunity area for us:

We want to reduce the complexity of every thinning circle by a constructive use of feedback and feedforward loops.

Design phase and co-creation

How might we introduce long-lasting feedback mechanism that will inform the planner and operator to decrease mental load while harvesting?

Co-design session

We invited our stakeholders to present our findings and coordinate a co-creation workshop with them to gather their thoughts and ideas on the focus area we identified to help us move forward in our concept ideation phase.

Feedback workshop

To ensure our ideas align with the stakeholders’ world, we had the chance to invite operator students and forestry experts to the university and gather feedback on our ideas. Together with their input, we could adjust our focus areas.

Drafting and testing

We started to draft the first screens and tested the concept and usability with various people.

Sharing and exhibiting the final proposal


A shift ot the designers role?

Designers and design researchers need to consider all levels of their designs, from the product level to societal systems, in order to create more sustainable solutions. The biggest challenge for me was getting used to designing on these different levels and constantly zooming in and out between them.

Open data platforms

Open data platforms have caught my interest, and I'm curious to dive deeper into the topic. Ethical meta-issues must be considered, especially in this project. These include questions such as who owns the data, who makes decisions, and who moderates the platform.