Innovative method for tracking wood

by Michael Fabing
5 minutes
Innovative method for tracking wood

Various innovative methods have been proposed in international level and other are still under research...

The French CIRAD-Foret system 

It is a low-cost and plain method of timber tracking in which the average diameters of the two ends and length of the log are recorded and a sketch is made of the growth rings at two ends and other characteristic features (e.g. knots, bolls, bends etc.). Each log has serial number matching form. The form contains all the necessary information but cross-checking and auditing is required.

It is a reliable method as counterfeit proof documentation and cross-comparison of records among felling and processing should make it difficult to substitute logs into the system. With this method counterfeit forms and hammer marks can get through checkpoints but will be detected by audit. The method is practically easy to learn and use forest management consultancy development alternatives’ recent Log Monitoring and Log Control project in Cambodia noted that the CIRAD system has ‘a proven track record under extremely difficult conditions and is known to international timber concessionaires’, it is also used in Thailand and Laos.

Microtaggants are microscopic particles.

It is a high-cost method with very high reliability, high level of information and it is virtually impossible to counterfeit. These particles are composed of layers of different colored plastics; millions of permutations are possible by combining several colors in different sequences. The coding sequences are then read with an x100 pocket microscope. It is the fastest marking technique and it is easy to apply with spray gun. The disadvantages are that it can be difficult to read in field, wet or muddy logs may not take marker well while installation costs are high. Furthermore operating costs for that method are kept low while it provides a very high level of information 

Automatic cameras and remote sensing

Automatic cameras in satellites are used along with remote sensing techniques. This innovative method provides high level of information over a large scale while it is a high cost technique, but for a large amount of information. This method is not practical for monitoring movements for individual logs but provides valuable information across concessions and nationally. Automatic cameras and remote sensing are clearly large-scale technologies that are not designed to measure individual logs but areas of action and summative volumes of traffic, etc. For example in December 1999, NASA launched two environmental satellites (LANDSAT 7 and EOS TERRA) that should allow custom production of accurate forest maps and monitoring of many aspects of concession management and make sure the veracity of protected areas. 


Reflectors are read by laser devices and may possibly be of value to aerial surveillance teams trying to spot concession boundaries, log trucks carrying illegal loads and the like, on the other hand satellite- based sensors can be read over enormous distances but are currently relatively weighty. Until now, technological developments in forest management have tended to go before policy rather than being driven by it. Even though the massive role for new information technologies, such systems will only be invented if policy needs for their use are clearly identified. Reading is fast and accurate and can be achieved remotely, from air, etc. The method provides very good reliability and security, it is a continually improving method but it is poor in practicality. It’s a high cost method but the level of information is low while it can be modified to incorporate memory cards and unique identifiers. 

Ground Video Surveillance Cameras and Automatic Activation Devices 

Ground Video Surveillance Cameras and Automatic Activation Devices are used for log tracking. The reliability of the method is good as the signal can be transmitted remotely to enforcement personnel. It is not a practical system for monitoring movements of individual logs but good for monitoring major transportation routes. It can be activated by light-, by sound- or by motion- detectors. High-level information can be collected but it is a very high cost method. 

Our Sponsor


Climate Ledger Initiative