Indigenous communities use innovative technology to protect Bolivian forests
To address this challenge, the Bolivian System of Forest Certification and Incentives (SBCBi), created by the Forests and Lands Authority (ABT) with support from WWF, introduced principles, criteria and performance indicators by type of forest user. The SBCBi includes a set of incentives aimed at encouraging responsible practices in the process of logging and wood processing.
In Bolivia, indigenous communities play a crucial role in the timber sector. They are an important part of the wood supply chain, and occupy a strategic and representative role in increasing the legality and sustainability of forest management.
As part of the implementation of the SBCBi in indigenous communities, the ABT conducted a performance appraisal in coordination with the National Indigenous Forestry Association (AFIN). As a result of this evaluation, three communities of Monte Verde Indigenous Territory stood out because of the high scores attained. Santa Monica community, scored an outstanding 70 points, followed by Palestina and Río Blanco, having both communities scored a little over 50 points. Santa Monica’s performance ranked as high or higher than privately managed forests, granting them automatic certification of responsible management of its community-owned forests.
In recognition of this good performance and to further incentivize best practice, these communities received a laptop and two smartphones. This modern technology is expected to strengthen their capacities by enabling them to guarantee transparency in the timber tracking system, and more efficient forest management.
Polonia Supepi Wasase, Treasurer of the Rio Blanco Rubblestone Association, predicts that “these tools will help us to better manage our forest. Data logging is important; we need to store it safely. By organizing our information, we will become more proficient in forest management"
Erlan Chacon, President of the Forestry Committee of Santa Monica, says the donated equipment will help their organization to achieve better economic benefits. "By guaranteeing the legality of our products, we have better opportunities in the market. The use of smartphones will transform many aspects of our forestry practice and information gathering has become easier. The application on the phone allows us to establish our location regarding the timber marked during the census. This data is valuable when updated online onto the certification system platform, which can be accessed through the computer. These devices provide many benefits to our community forestry initiatives."
José Luis Osinaga, Conservation Director for the Forests and Land Authority, believes this system will allow forest users to charter their products in increasingly competitive markets. "This innovation in the treatment of timber harvesting legality is revolutionizing traceability and providing greater transparency in the value chain. Traceability is important in determining the true value of the forest, because it favors legal trade. The technology donated to these three communities is the result of continuous and coordinated work between ABT, AFIN and WWF to promote and ensure responsible forest management in Bolivia."
These technological innovations will also serve to improve the link between communities and markets. According to María del Carmen Carreras, Head of the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) at WWF Bolivia, "access to accurate information in real time through user-friendly software and technology, such as smart phones, will allow forest users to register their logging operations in record time with minimal error. As a result, they will be able to quickly obtain permits for timber recollection and transportation and provide full information on wood supply to potential customers."