The world is changing faster than ever, and the global trade in timber products is no exception.

New laws in major consumer markets like the United States and the European Union have stepped up pressure on importers to know where the timber they use comes from and to be able to prove that it was taken and traded legally. Follow the timber supply chain a little further and we see suppliers that want to maintain or gain access to these markets facing the same expectations from their buyers overseas.

In major wood producing and processing countries too, new policies demanding increased transparency and accountability of the forest products industry are raising the bar, in some cases altering traditional concepts of monitoring and enforcement. Can technology help governments and businesses stay competitive in this changing environment?

The wide range of options is exciting, however discussions with forestry and trade regulators and experts in Asia suggest that technology alone is not the answer. Rather, it is a combination of a strong policy framework and finding the type of technology – high or low tech – that is the best fit with the objectives of a timber legality assurance system1 and the capabilities of those who will use it.