Digitalising the “PAPER TRAILS” in Peru’s forestry industry] Opportunities and challenges of digital technologies

The webinar was held on 11 June and was the outcome of a joint effort by SERFOR, the Climate Ledger Initiative and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), through its Global Programme on Climate Change and Environment.

Deforestation in Peru is troubling. According to the National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR) report, by 2017 Peru had lost a total of 7.7 million hectares of natural forest, 60 per cent of which was in the departments of Ucayali, Madre de Dios, Huánuco and Loreto.

The main causes of deforestation in Peru are illegal mining, monoculture, illegal logging and road construction. According to the World Bank, 80 per cent of Peru’s timber exports are illegal. A report issued by the U.S. government however has estimated that about 90 per cent of the timber from Peru is illegal.

Government must therefore give priority to the care of natural protected areas, which will ensure the conservation of biodiversity and maintain the natural processes of ecosystems, which are important for addressing climate change and mitigating the effects it is currently causing. The largest primary forest on the Earth is the Amazon rainforest, so it is a great challenge for government to protect it. Another important fact is that 57 per cent of Peru’s geographical area (73 million hectares) is covered by forest. It has the ninth largest forest area in the world and the second largest in the Amazon.

Since 2018, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), through its Global Programme on Climate Change and Environment, has been implementing the Wood Tracking Protocol (WTP), in response to considerable demand from the private sector for greater transparency in the Peruvian forestry sector.  To date, it has developed a user-friendly native application for mobile devices and established a WTP platform to collect and process forest-relevant data according to the needs of Peruvian public and private sector stakeholders, based on Blockchain.

Martin Jaggi, Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), gave a welcome address and presented those attending the webinar to SDC’s activities in the Andes.

“It is important for Switzerland to support these initiatives,” said Jaggi, “because we know that deforestation is not only a very serious problem in itself, but there are also economic and social reasons, the existence of mafias, etc.”.

“SDC believes that we can contribute with Blockchain, a technological innovation, to have a safer control and monitoring system, and that – if we look to the future- if this system is applied nationwide in Peru, or in all the countries that have Amazon or Andean forests – traceability becomes fundamental and mandatory, and will help halt timber smuggling and illegal logging, thus stopping deforestation. We know that this tool is not the only thing needed, and that solid governance is needed too,” he concluded.

Ana Luisa Calderón Valenzuela, director of SERFOR’s forest and wildlife heritage management control department, presented the forest information management system (MC-SNIFFS). She stated that it is a subsystem for the management of information about timber titles for verifying the legal origin of the timber harvested. She also commented that MC-SNIFFS contains information on Forest Concessions, Forest Use Permits, Management Plans, Operational Plans and Management Declarations, and is  more efficient for users and more sustainable for the country.

The Wood Tracking Protocol (WTP) initiative, which uses Blockchain technology to provide transparency and traceability for the timber industry in Peru, together with SERFOR’s “Control Module of the National Forestry and Wildlife Information System” (MC-SNIFFS), are a major step forward in Peru’s timber monitoring procedures.

Victor Galarreta, Peru Lead of WTP, said that WTP would facilitate the updating of SERFOR’s tool, since Blockchain technology stores data and information in a public ledger, which is tamper-proof and accessible to all, so consumers can verify the legal origin of the timber they acquire. “Our goal is to create a new tool for tracking timber, by developing a digital system using Blockchain technology which cannot be tampered with. Blockchain will be combined with new digital protocols for physical verification and the authentication of data in each of the links of the timber chain,” he said.

Michael Fabing, WTP’s IT Lead, gave an explanation of the WTP application. He indicated that it helps in the physical verification and authentication of data in each of the links of the timber chain.

He highlighted why it is important to have the Blockchain technology, and  explained that it is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are stored in a decentralized database, linked and secured through the use of cryptography.

“Because it is decentralized, no one owns the information, and no one can physically connect to the Blockchain to delete or modify a record,” he concluded.

For further information:
PPT Swiss Cooperation (SDC) – Martin Jaggi, Director of cooperation
PPT MC-SNIFFS Forestry Information Management System, SERFOR, Ana Luisa Calderón
PPT The Wood Tracking Protocol, Víctor Galarreta, WTP Peru Lead
WTP Web – Project

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