Brazilian exchange launches app to track illegal timber trade

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 24, 2015 10:35 AM

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's environmental assets exchange BVRio on Tuesday launched an app that promises to help foreign traders and buyers of Brazilian timber make sure the product hasn't been illegally logged.

The exchange, which provides a market for the trading of assets such as carbon and forest credits, says buyers using the app will be able to scan a code that is legally required on every lot of timber coming out of the country and receive a report on its status.

Logging is an important industry in Brazil, where half of the country is blanketed by forests. The government considers illegal logging the main factor behind the deforestation of the Amazon region, with about 5,000 square kilometers of rainforest destroyed every year.

British-based Chatham House, an independent policy institute, estimates that more than 50 percent of Brazilian timber has illegal origins.

"These apps will be particularly useful to buyers operating in Europe and the United States, where they have to ensure compliance with the EU Timber Regulation and the U.S. Lacey Act," BVRio said in a statement.

"Given the high risk of timber illegality in Brazil, the use of these apps assists buyers in estimating their risks and avoiding exposure to illegal timber trade," it said.

The exchange, which plans to launch a platform for timber in 2016, said there are versions of the app for desktop and Android and IOS formats with free downloads at Google Play and the Apple Store.

The system conducts a crosscheck of information provided by several institutions in Brazil and also checks inconsistencies with satellite imagery.

Deforestation will be a main issue at the Paris climate talks that begin next week, as reducing the problem is critical to cut global production of gases blamed for warming the world's temperature.

(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Paul Simao)