Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can barcodes become the secret weapon against illegal logging?

As strange as it sounds, there's a good chance it might happen with a new technology provided by the British company Helveta.

According to an article on Reuters, the company has put already barcodes (yes, just like the ones you have in supermarkets, only in plastic bags) on about million trees across Africa, southeast Asia and South America.

Patrick Newton, Helveta's chief executive officer told Reuters that the computerized system is less prone to fraud than traditional paper records, carries live data and can help governments to collect more timber taxes, Newton said.

How does it work exactly? watch this piece on BBC Oxford News for the details:

In all the barcodes can't prevent criminals from chopping down trees, but the system's promise is to make it hard for them to process, sell or export the wood.

Can this system stop illegal logging? On one side, this "industry" is too lucrative to be stopped only by one measure. Usually innovative solutions against theft generates more innovations on the other side and creates more sophisticated thieves. BUT on the other side, not only this is a much better and secure system than the current paper-based system, it will also make illegal logging more expensive and difficult.

Hence my guestimation is it will become a powerful tool that can decrease illegal logging, and even more it will bring more technology and further innovation into the fight in illegal logging, which will be crucial in winning this fight.

What do you think? I'll be happy to hear your thoughts about it.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green publishing

1 comment:

Bhavani Prakash said...

I think this is an excellent and urgently needed application of the concept to tropical rainforest trees. Any measure that can help is worth pursuing, given that time is running out for the trees and the species that are rapidly becoming extinct.

Given that Singapore is a major entrepot for tropical timber, this should help transit routes become more difficult for illegal loggers too.

Thanks for sharing.