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Industry Insight

Digitizing Trees

A post earlier this month about protected trees turning up in wood pulp from Asia Pulp &

By Richard Romano
Published: March 28, 2012

A post earlier this month about protected trees turning up in wood pulp from Asia Pulp & Paper mills generated no small amount of discussion amongst the Going Greenosphere and while, yes, Chain of Custody certification is an imperfect solution, it’s at least a start, and what’s needed is not cynical abandonment of the very idea, but improved oversight of the CoC process, and more pressure from end users. But then maybe, as this story over at Triple Pundit suggests, one potential solution lies in technology. British supply chain management software company Helveta, for example, has devised a novel idea to help combat illegal logging: “digitizing trees so that timber can be tracked, and its origins authenticated, from forest to market.”
Founded in 2004 and rooted in an environmental ethic, Helveta’s been tackling the problem at the source, engaging local residents– including West African pygmies– to make use of its state-of-the-art digital supply chain management system to tag forest trees and track timber from the time and place where its cut down through to end-user markets. The company’s efforts have recently garnered international accolades.
Basically, the trees are tagged with bar codes which can then be scanned, sharing information about the trees, the surrounding forest, and how important those resources are to the locals. That’s nice from an anthropological standpoint, but I’m a but unsure how it helps combat illegal logging. Still, the idea won Helveta an FT-Arcelor Mittal “Boldness in Business Award” earlier this month.

Please offer your feedback to Richard. He can be reached at richard@whattheythink.com.



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