Transparency through Technology

Transparency is a key sticking point in improving forest governance and enforcement around the world. Corporate and political reforms for transparency, as well as the implementation of traceability systems, can ensure that legal and sustainable commodities can be distinguished from those which have been produced in violation of local rights or forest and land use governance. At the same time, targeted investment in new timber and commodity identification technologies can have game-changing impacts on keeping traceability schemes honest and verifiable. EIA examines opportunities to expand transparency and traceability technologies and systems across forest countries and in consumer markets.

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The spread of smartphones to nearly all corners of the world’s forests brings high-tech tools into the hands of loggers and forest defenders alike, and the development of complex digital traceability systems for timber supply chains are within reach though not yet integrated into any national governance systems. By showing what’s possible when data is made available through our investigations and reports, EIA aims to illustrate why such data needs to be transparently available for forest governance to function effectively.

To strengthen data collection a range of timber ID technologies have been developed over the past decade that intend to identify and trace timber species and origin across the supply chain.  EIA has been at the heart of these efforts, engaging with scientists and law enforcement, sending samples for testing, and identifying gaps. Through further engagement with funders, scientists, and other NGOs, we seek to develop universal sampling protocols and to ensure that samples collected by various groups can feed into a common database.

While individual data collection may allow for one-off verification, comprehensive systems – that cover entire supply chains or national timber sectors – can address the broader systemic risks that allow illegal logging and deforestation to continue. EIA is currently developing a forest sector supply chain traceability system in Gabon, while also working to replicate these systems to other countries. In addition to traceability in forest countries, supply chain transparency will be most effective at shifting global markets when consumers possess real information about the source of their products. EIA has developed the Origin App to provide species and country of harvest information straight to individuals, connecting a product’s traceability from point of origin through to the final consumer.

Related Resources


Has HS Timber Achieved Full Traceability?

    HS Timber, formerly Holzindustrie Schweighofer, is an Austrian company that is the largest timber processor in Romania. Following a year-long investigation into widespread allegations of illegal timber purchasing, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) disassociated itself from HS Timber in 2017. The first requirement the FSC set for HS Timber’s reassociation was for the […]

 Illegal wood in PNSD and Yavarí Tapiche
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The Origin App

EIA Launches Mobile App to Help Consumers Seek and Demand Wood Product Origin Information to Achieve Greater Supply Chain Transparency Washington D.C. — Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) launched The Origin App, a mobile application that empowers people to make better choices about what and from whom they buy. EIA believes that people deserve […]

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Romania’s New Timber Traceability System Removes Public Transparency

On January 31, Romania released a new electronic timber traceability system, an important step in its transition to a fully digital forest sector. Unfortunately, the new system has inexplicably removed all public transparency. Following years of intense public pressure on the government to end the rampant illegal logging that is plaguing the country, the new […]


How to Use Romania’s Forest Inspector

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Critical Updates Made to Romania’s Forest Inspector System

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