Timber can be harvested illegally in a number of ways.

Several common methods include:

  1. Harvesting more trees than what is permitted by the forest management plan.
  2. Mis-labeling high-value trees as lower valuable species during the forest inventory. 
  3. Felling trees with a smaller diameter than what is permitted.
  4. Logging trees from forest areas that are not part of a specified management plan.
  5. Logging trees during illegal forest clearing.

(Note: The first three methods can occur even in legal forest management areas.)

In a new initiative that should help lower the frequency of the last method – illegal logging during illegal forest clearing – the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso has announced the implementation of a new system that detects illegal deforestation in “real time”. 

The way it works is rather simple. Using daily satellite images, the state government will identify illegal deforestation as small as one hectare. Once identified, they intend to notify the land owner via a telephone and then follow up with an email documenting the infraction.

This new system should improve detection of illegal deforestation as it occurs, and reduce the time elapsed before acting on these incidents. This is significant because in Brazil, the time between illegal deforestation and enforcement of laws can take years, often 4-5 years.

If this does help reduce illegal deforestation, this is a small piece of good news for buyers of wood products from Mato Grosso. It should mean that one of the five main ways in which illegal logs enter supply chains becomes less common there.

To learn how you can use similar satellite technology to reduce legal risks in your wood product supply chains, contact: info@timbercheck.net

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Header photo: USGS