How WIBEX radically improves traceability in the wood industry

The technological approach developed by WIBEX radically transforms traceability in the wood industry. It goes far beyond current standards by continuously auditing the entire supply chain.

How can we be entirely sure that the wood used in furniture sold in a store comes indeed from a sustainable forest? This question has been a hot topic in the wood industry for years. However, the current answers, coming from the various certification bodies, are far from being fully satisfactory.

For the vast majority of the professionals concerned, all over the world, the current processes are long, costly, complex and weak. As a result, there is no proof that the board used in furniture is the one originally purchased. In fact, despite standards and certifying organisations, illegal logging remains a huge concern: it accounts for 50 to 90% of all logging activity in the three major tropical forest zones (South America, West Africa and Southeast Asia), according to WWF. In Gabon, 70% of logging is considered illegal; in Russia, 25% of exports come from illegal forest activities.

On the other hand, logging companies themselves are not directly responsible. The growing market demand for wood, which is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050*, inevitably leads to an increase of the worldwide illegal logging through overexploitation of forest ecosystems.

WIBEX’s two-step answer

Trading wood, like other raw materials, requires more standardisation, efficiency and monitoring of the products exchanged. Today, wood is the only raw material that is not subject to a reference market. This is the first stone of WIBEX’s response, which has developed a digital tool connecting instantly buyers and sellers. By creating this market, then it becomes possible to exclude from the transactions wood with suspicious origin.

The transaction is therefore the first step in the traceability chain. The marketplace, as proposed by WIBEX, creates a more efficient and more liquid market. It is a question of moving from bilateral deals struck directly between two parties, as seen currently, to transparent and anonymous transactions based on an electronic platform that match buyers and sellers. By doing so, information becomes standardised and accessible to all professionals in the sector.

Once this system is in place, with prices determined for given products, WIBEX will implement a supply chain traceability solution. Our team has thus developed a specific technology, allowing the raw material to be continuously tracked, from the marking in the forest to the point of shipment. The application of our technology even goes much further, allowing, for example, to follow a production from an individual tree or log.

All the features of the transaction are recorded in a digital contract, the virtual form of the exchanged product. This information is aggregated, verified, and validated throughout the supply chain, right up to the moment of physical exchange, when the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer takes place.

A painless change of method

It is therefore not the standards, but rather the current method to implement them that is to be questioned: instead of a model of statistical, random and human-declaration-based checks, WIBEX proposes a mathematical, technological and above all forgery-proof model. It directly involves local regulators and all the actors in the supply chain. Traceability is therefore permanent, whereas today’s methods provide for audits carried out by a single entity once every five years!

The WIBEX system therefore recreates the trust necessary for collaboration between actors, sometimes partners, sometimes competitors. And this, while guaranteeing security, traceability and confidentiality.

*source : Royal Forestry Society

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Wibex has been consulting in Liberia

The WIBEX team travelled for a full week to Liberia. The country, which has been taken over by President Georges Weah, wants to enhance the traceability over the forest management. WIBEX has thus positioned itself to potentially meet this local demand.

More than twenty years after the end of the civil war, Liberia is gradually recovering and trying to heal its wounds. Former football star Georges Weah took over the reins of the country in 2018, plagued by corruption for years. His objectives have been clear since he came to power: to return to growth and put an end to an almost generalised system of corruption in many sectors.

As a major exotic wood exporting country, this resource is vital to the local economy. However, it has been insufficiently monitored in recent years, leading to much damage (deforestation, illegal logging, etc.) both to the forests and to the country’s finances. But things should change: Liberia now wants to regain control over production and exports in order to better manage financial resources.

We therefore spent a week in Liberia. We engaged in numerous discussions with representatives of the forestry sector and the French embassy.

Wibex team was welcomed by the FDA and a local company in Liberia.

Wibex ensures traceability, certification and societal development

For nearly three years, Wibex has been developing a solution that would be in line with the wishes and expectations of countries such as Liberia. The system is designed to involve local communities, create jobs and develop modern plantation methods such as agroforestry.

Wibex proposes a three-point solution:

  1. Agroforestry programs covering an area up to 40,000 acres;
  2. Evaluation of sequestered carbon in conservation forests;
  3. Implementation of an interface between the chain of custody for logging and the WIBEX exchange platform.

The solution will be presented to European and international donors. For Liberia, it’s therefore a question of regaining control over the exploitation of forestry data in the country but also of concretising its desire to comfort its status as a transparent producer and exporter that respects international standards. In addition, Wibex also proposes regular verification of forest preservation with international organizations (Gold Standard, UN) for example, in order to evaluate carbon sinks within the framework of the REDD+ program.

For Wibex, this is also an opportunity to showcase its know-how and develop its activities in Africa. Other countries are also interested in such an approach, which is therefore eco-responsible, transparent and beneficial to all.