New Weapon in the Fight Against Illegal Logging
Brazil’s federal environmental agency, Ibama, launched this month the latest attack in its meagre arsenal of weapons to protect the environment. Ibama has created a centralized database to track timber from source to sale, a vital step in the fight against illegal logging in the Amazon region.
The database tracking system, known as Sinaflor, allows individual trees to be electronically tagged and monitored as they are cut down and pass through the supply chain. Inspectors are able to check the database via their cell phones while on patrol. With built-in satellite mapping, timber being sold as legal can be checked against the exact area of licensed commercial production it originates from.
The system marks a steep change from the current system, which environmentalists have criticized as being open to fraud and human error because databases are isolated, poorly managed, and cannot be easily accessed to verify documentation attached to timber.
“The new system offers a much more comprehensive process of control,” Suely Araújo, president of Ibama, said in an interview in her office in Brasília. The legal logging that has been approved in the Amazon region appears on the tracking system. “What’s not in Sinaflor will be illegal timber.”
The system is the result of four years of work and was envisioned under the forest code passed into law in 2012, which gave the federal government this power to create and manage a national system to regulate the supply chain of timber.
Illegal logging is one of the greatest threats to the preservation of the Amazon, making it one of the greatest contributors to global warming. In the year ending July 2016, Amazonian rainforest six times the size of Los Angeles was cut down. This was the second rise in two years, ending a 10-year period in which deforestation was dramatically reduced. Brazil’s Environment Ministry, under which Ibama falls, has vowed to reverse the rising trend.
Sinaflor has already been piloted in the state of Roraima and is now being introduced this month in Rondônia. The states are legally obliged to use the system, and Suely expects to have it up and running across the country by the end of the year. “When we manage to implement it in the whole country, I think we will see a dramatic change in terms of control,” she said.
[This article originally appeared on the Reuters website.]