March 29, 2018
The arrival of blockchain technology has been compared to the invention of “double-entry bookkeeping” which revolutionized the economy. But it now has implications reaching far beyond finance, to government and sustainability. In terms of sustainability, blockchain development could be a big game-changer as it can generate trust where there is none, empower citizens and bypass central authorities. Especially, most of environmentalists are currently dreaming about blockchain’s potential to boost the sustainability of forest preservation. So, is it real or just a mirage? Or is there any immense potential in the use of blockchain technology against illegal timber harvesting?
But first, let’s start from the beginning.
Almost any civilization in the history of human beings has been built on timber. For example, if it wasn’t for timber, humanity could not have crossed the oceans. Energy, construction, biospheres, as you already know, are all liked to wood. As you can see, the global wood sector is massive in which many people profiting from it. Wherever there is big money involved, corruption, exploitation and illegal activities will be part of the equation. It is no exception for the timber market.
In fact, people already completely screwed up forests while the industrial revolution was happening. People destroyed almost all of primeval forests and there is less than 1% left. The oldest and most natural forest in Europe is the Bialowieza Forest in Poland which is on the best way to get destroyed as well. Forest are getting cut down for commodities. Enterprises are trying to address illegal logging, but how can we, as consumers, be sure of the origin of our timber?
This is where blockchain technology has to be inserted.
Let’s take a look at this example. Ikea wants to sell a desk made from wood cut in a sustainable forest in Indonesia. For it to guarantee the product contains that wood, the company needs to follow the wood all the way from harvest through milling to production of the final desk. Right now the wood products industry does this through certification and labeling. But what if the tree-cutter’s neighbor donates a couple of logs grown on unsustainably managed land? Different certification organizations deal with such cheating in different ways, forcing timber companies to choose one labeling system or another. This in turn leaves the companies vulnerable to getting locked into one system whose governance begins acting like a monopoly and ramps up labeling prices.
With blockchain technology, we could achieve great transparency by creating decentralized systems, which for instance could combine time and GPS-locations with product numbers. Specifically, Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) (1) is already looking into the implementation of blockchain technology as an alternative solution for tracing provenance. This would be a huge game-changer. Imagine what would happen if you could track down your book by scanning the barcode and then you could be able to find the exact location where the tree used to stand? As blockchain records transactions openly and permanently to its ledger, and this dynamic ledger is generally available for everyone who wants a copy, it allows the whole tracking process to scrutiny while at the same time preventing any monopolistic third party from controlling the system.
Infinity Blockchain Labs is a visionary R&D company engaged in intermediary and RegTech services employing blockchain technology. We focus on forming alliances with established businesses and regulatory institutions across various industries, as well as providing collaborative incubation for early stage blockchain projects.
IBL aspires to empower Vietnam to become a global leader in blockchain development and therefore are committed to sharing information to nurture a passionate, educated blockchain community. One of the ways we maintain our role as ecosystem pioneer is by helping create educated blockchain enthusiasts. We are committed to sharing information and resources to help Vietnam become a blockchain hub through conferences, courses, contests, alliances, workshops, speaking engagements and incubations. Information regarding topics like hard forks helps people become more familiar with key blockchain concepts and thus able to adopt the technology.
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