As we are all aware, one of the tougher challenges in timber security can be the complex wood supply chain system that takes timber from the forest and turns it into viable products for public consumption.
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities recently announced a grant to explore how blockchain technology could be used to trace high value timber across the globe. An October 13 news release and article from the organization demonstrates how technology can play a role in preventing and detecting security problems throughout the global wood supply chain and they granted me permission to re-publish their article here.
I know many of you, like me, have read articles on blockchains and their many uses for years and, at times, the tech can be a bit overwhelming. But being able to assign a unique identifier to each tree and then track that tree through harvesting into the retail space becomes much easier when you introduce computers and blockchain’s ability.
Read on to comprehend how ForesTrust, LLC is working with IBM and the U.S. Endowment of Forestry and Communities (the endowment) to bring blockchain technology to aid timber transactions and supply chain visibility that will positively impact timber security.
The following article is a publication of ForesTrust, LLC and appeared first on their website:
ForesTrust, LLC and the Future of the Global Wood Supply Chain
ForesTrust, LLC was introduced today (October 13, 2020) as the newest venture to take advantage of Blockchain technology, universally recognized as one of the 21st century’s most innovative and powerful applications. This collaboration between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment), IBM and key stakeholders is designed to provide a cost-effective network to accurately and efficiently track wood and wood fiber from the forest to the consumer.
Research into the viability of utilizing this platform for proof of origin and certification management concluded in late 2019. The Proof of Concept established that Blockchain technology could provide a secure conduit for transparency and traceability across complex value chains and help streamline the administrative components of complicated certification requirements. It demonstrated the program’s ability to provide a neutral infrastructure with technical control shared among users. This is particularly desirable in the forest products industry, which relies heavily on international trade where cooperation is required among numerous participants who must also retain potentially conflicting and/or competing interests. In a system burdened with complex relationships across various regulatory frameworks, Blockchain can provide a tool to promote trust. In addition, improving the ability to confirm the legality of wood and wood product sourcing enhances customer confidence, provides a significant market stimulus, drives efficiencies, and assures conformance with sustainability objectives.
“At the onset of this project, the Endowment was searching for a solution to the increasingly problematic business hurdles in the forest sector,” stated Peter Madden, President of the Endowment. “With the successful completion of the Proof of Concept, we know that the IBM Blockchain Platform addresses several of these issues, providing the means to guarantee the utilization of ‘responsibly sourced wood’ meaning that we could ultimately prevent illegal fiber and log entry into the U.S. With this motivating evidence, our next steps are to identify and implement strategies to accelerate investment and implementation of the ForesTrust Blockchain Network.”
Illegal logging is a systemic problem that results in an annual global market loss of nearly $15 billion, felt along the entire supply chain from the small landowner to the highest levels of government. It is directly tied to forest and wildlife habitat destruction, has a devastating impact on water quality and places pricing pressure on legally sourced fiber. It also contributes to egregious violations of child labor laws.
The 2008 amendments to the Lacey Act were a crucial component in helping stem the trade in illegal timber. However, the interpretation of ‘due care’ gave rise to various enforcement challenges. ForesTrust gives the industry the ability to trace the provenance of the product and ensure authentic import declaration forms. This will go a long way in tackling illegal logging and help guarantee that trading partners mandate forest governance.
“By having transparency into each step of the product’s journey, producers and consumers will have peace of mind about the origins of their fiber and richer insight into its journey and compliance inspections,” said Alicia Cramer, Senior Vice President with the Endowment. “ForesTrust will be a permissioned blockchain network that provides an efficient way of working across the fiber supply chain for member landowners, harvesters, producers, logistic suppliers, retailers, regulators, and consumers.”
In working with IBM, ForesTrust will provide a safe and secure network that has the flexibility to accommodate forest industry standards.
About the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities:
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities. To learn more about the Endowment, please visit our website at www.usendowment.org .