By Office of Public Affairs
Bangkok, 26 August 2021 – A newly developed mobile application is set to verify timber and counter illegal logging for the Royal Forest Department of Thailand. The launch and training for the forest officials, supported by the Asian Institute of Technology and its partners on 20th August 2021, served as a prelude to ASEAN Single Window and Thailand 4.0.
Illegal logging poses major challenges not only to the natural environment, but also to the economic livelihood of local communities who are depending on the forest. To assist the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and European Union (EU) in tackling illegal logging, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) joined the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme and developed a mobile application for the Thai Royal Forest Department (RFD).
“The mobile app is developed in line with RFD’s needs and will help RFD officers to verify the origin of timber as required by the law. This will help improve efficiency of the RFD Timber Verification process and provide secure working condition for RFD female officers,” said Mr. Tanongsak Nontapa, Director of Forest Economic Office of RFD.
The “RFD Wood Verification App” will help ensure that timber from Thailand is sourced legally and sustainably, through the verification feature that tracks the origin of the timber all the way through — from forest to furniture. The Mobile App will be employed by field officers of the Thai RFD, replacing paper-based process as part of the system as well as digitalizing the Timber Verification System.
The enhanced traceability in the supply chain and verification of timber origin will contribute greatly to Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) under the Thai-EU VPA under negotiations.
“FAO would like to congratulate RFD on their commitment to develop innovative new IT tools that will improve the efficiency of forest resource data collection that will aid verification of the legality of timber produced in Thailand. We also hope that the partnership developed between RFD and AIT under this project will lead to further collaboration on developing technological solutions towards improved traceability of timber and timber products,” said Ms. Erica Pohnan, representative of FAO.In addition to the Mobile App, AIT also conducted a feasibility study to provide a set of technological solutions for timber traceability best-suited for the Thai context, as part of the one-year project titled “Technological Solutions for Harmonizing Existing Systems to Enhance Timber Traceability in Thailand.” The study provides a set of recommendations which has also been adopted by RFD.
At the launch ceremony, a representative of AIT, Mr. Manesh Lacoul said, “Today marks the end of the project but our journey to support RFD and enhance traceability of timber in Thailand will not end here.”
More cooperation between the Asian Institute of Technology and Royal Forest Department of Thailand, in areas related to sustainable forest management, is soon to follow as both institutions have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July this year.
“The MoU reaffirms our commitment to support the Royal Forest Department through research, development of ICT tools and applications, and capacity development in line with the recommendations of the Feasibility Study that we conducted under the project funded through the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme,” said Prof. Matthew Dailey, Director of AIT AI Center.
The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.