How Deforestation And Timber Issues Can Be Battled With Blockchain

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;dam-image ap size-large wp-image-cf45eaf85c2f44e6b40dec777d342a09&q; src=&q;×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;629&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; Environmental activists who combat illegal logging, clear overgrowth covering recently raided illegally logged trees in what used to be a jungle in Chaung Gwet, in northern Sagaing division, Myanmar. &q;We used to be so afraid of coming to the forest alone because it was too forested,&q; said Aung Moe Kyaw, one of the activist. &q;Now, as you see, it is bald and no more big trees. The big trees are all gone now.&q; (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

&l;i&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;This article is part of a five-piece series with David Luna, &l;/span&g;&l;/i&g;&l;i&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;CEO and President of Luna Global Networks &a;amp; Convergence Strategies LLC.&l;/span&g;&l;/i&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;About 30% of the world&a;rsquo;s landmass is covered by forests. While that may seem like quite a bit, sections of forests amounting to &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;half the size of England&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; are lost every year. &l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;If the world&a;rsquo;s rainforests continue to be destroyed at this rate, they will disappear entirely in the next 100 years. &l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;The destruction of animal habitats has been &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;well-documented&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;, but the impact of illegal logging is not localized to a few environments. It is a worldwide problem, the effects of which are felt around the globe. &l;/span&g;

&l;/p&g;&l;blockquote&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;&q;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;The illicit logging industry is well-known for forced labor, &l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;violence&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; and &l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;human trafficking&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;, all of which are largely invisible to the people who end up using these illegal timbers&l;/span&g;&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;,&q; says David Luna, who has served as the&a;nbsp;&l;span&g;Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum&a;rsquo;s Global Agenda Council on Illicit Trade and Organized Crime.&l;/span&g;&l;/span&g;&l;/blockquote&g;&l;p class=&q;tweet_line&q;&g;Society needs a solution that stops bad actors from engaging in illicit trade and profiting from deforestation&a;mdash;and blockchain is set to help.&l;/p&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;But there are several challenges to consider:&l;/span&g;

&l;strong&g;Deforestation and timber production have far-reaching implications.&l;/strong&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;Illegal logging is a multi-billion dollar industry, depressing timber prices and generating &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;$10-15 billion annually&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; in criminal proceeds. The term &a;ldquo;illegal logging&a;rdquo; covers &l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;a wide variety of transgressions&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;, including logging of protected species, logging in protected areas, and logging with fake or illegally obtained permits. &l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;The loss of habitats and protected land cannot be overstated. Habitats that have developed over the course of millennia are routinely devastated. And once destroyed, it&a;rsquo;s incredibly difficult&a;mdash;or even impossible&a;mdash;to return them to &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;their former state. &l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;As habitats are lost, so are the plants, animals and &l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;biological diversity&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; that made those areas so special. And these resources provide society with many of the &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;pharmaceutical compounds&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; it relies on today.&l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;The rainforests also act as the planet&a;rsquo;s lungs, &l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;absorbing carbon dioxide&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; and replenishing the air with oxygen. Deforestation is occurring at the same time as a major &l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;influx of carbon dioxide&l;/span&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; into the atmosphere, fueling climate change and &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;further destabilizing regions.&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;&l;!–nextpage–&g;It isn&a;rsquo;t just the animals who lose habitats through illicit logging and trade. Human communities and ways of life are &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;wiped off the map&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; in the pursuit of profits. As the trees that once held tons of earth in place with their roots are cleared away, so is their power to absorb groundwater and prevent erosion. Clear-cutting forests often ends in massive &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;soil erosion&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; and flooding that threatens smaller plants, animals, and humans alike. &l;/span&g;

&l;strong&g;Blockchain can solve for some of these issues.&l;/strong&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;To be clear, deforestation issues have depth and complexity, and blockchain is not a magic bullet. But the technology can be used in efforts to provide more accurate records, increase transparency into timber supply chains, and incentivize better behavior from participants in the logging industry. &l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;For one thing, a&a;nbsp;blockchain is a useful tool when it comes to recording and protecting land records and documentation. &l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;While protected lands still have to be enforced on the ground level by governments, blockchain offers a way to make sure the records related to that enforcement are unalterable. Similarly, blockchain-based land records can offer some level of protection to communities and landowners whose land may be &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;coveted by illegal loggers&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;.&l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;Blockchain also greatly improves visibility into the timber supply chain. Cryptographic seals can be applied to the wood itself or to individual shipments, providing a chain of custody from the moment of application to the time the timber makes it to its final destination. The results of &l;/span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;timber DNA tests&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; can be recorded and tracked on a blockchain to inform consumers they were logged in an ethical manner.&l;/span&g;

&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;Portable scanners&l;/span&g;&l;/a&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g; are available to read the grain of the timbers and identify the species of tree. Registering that information on blockchain would help identify when and where illegal timbers enter the supply chain. If a shipment of timber lacks the chain of custody from a reputable source, those timbers would be flagged immediately.&l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;Squeezing illegal wood out of reputable supply chains will go a long way towards curbing the effects of deforestation and illegal logging by drying up the demand for those woods. &l;/span&g;

&l;strong&g;Blockchain&a;nbsp;technology is only one part of a wider effort. &l;/strong&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;The blockchain is best used as a tool for education. It increases transparency and visibility in areas that were once opaque. It can provide insight into where and how problems occur in supply chains. But it can&a;rsquo;t solve problems on its own. It can&a;rsquo;t enforce regulations or check permits by itself. &l;/span&g;

&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;The solutions to the world&a;rsquo;s environmental problems will involve many tools and organizations working together. Solving the deforestation crisis is going to take willpower from everyone involved&a;mdash;consumers, governments and business interests. It can be accomplished, and it might even be accomplished faster if the blockchain is part of that solution.&l;/span&g;

&l;i&g;&l;span style=&q;font-weight: 400&q;&g;David M. Luna is the CEO and President of Luna Global Networks &a;amp; Convergence Strategies LLC. A former U.S. Diplomat and national security official, Mr. Luna is a globally-recognized thought leader on transnational threats, international affairs, geopolitical risks, illicit trade and the global illegal economy. Mr. Luna has participated in numerous diplomatic initiatives and public-private partnerships on anti-crime and global security.&l;/span&g;&l;/i&g;