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Helping Farmers Register Trees to Boost Legal Timber Production and Trade: Thailand’s e-Tree System Registers Half a Million Trees

Blog | Mon, 31 Jul, 2023 · 8 min read
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Smallholders and tree farmers in Thailand now have greater incentive to grow protected tree species, such as Rosewood and Agarwood species, now that they can register them for production and trade purposes through an easy-to-use online platform. 
 

The UN-REDD Lower Mekong Initiative, in collaboration with the Royal Forest Department (RFD), built an electronic self-declaration tool that has been integrated into the recently re-launched e-Tree system: https://etree.forest.go.th.

E-tree is an electronic tree and land registration platform that enables users to upload information necessary to register their trees and land ownership.  This process is voluntary for most individuals, but can also help with registering for mandatory permits for species regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The UN-REDD Lower Mekong Initiative supported the RFD in developing the e-Tree online platform currently in use, which includes innovative new features and functionalities such as the ability to generate QR codes and transportation documents, that enable registrants to transport and trade their timber. These tools facilitate the management of the wood supply chain and enable responsible sourcing of timber from smallholders.

To date, over 440,000 trees and 3,700 ha of plantations have been registered on e-Tree.      RFD’s Economic Forest Division is leading the rollout of the platform by training RFD offices nationwide and has set targets of gaining 10,000 smallholder registrations.  At the time of writing, this target is approximately 50% completed, with over 5 000 individuals registered.

E-Tree’s two main tools are its Self-Declaration form (SD online) and Forest Management System (SD+).

  1. Self-Declaration (SD) online:
    While stakeholders have been designing a paper-based self-declaration mechanism since 2017, the Lower Mekong Initiative was successfully able to pilot an electronic version of the self-declaration (now known as “SD online” on the origin of timber for transportation purposes). Using this tool, smallholders can upload proof of land ownership, geographic coordinates, photos, and data on their tree age and species. This self-declaration form enables users to generate transportation documents with evidence to ensure compliance with legal and land tenure requirements on wood products.
     
  2. Forest Management System (SD+):
    The SD+ function can help smallholders to meet requirements for certification of Sustainable Management of Forests, with over 15 communities growing rubberwood, eucalyptus, and CITES-listed species such as Rosewood and Agarwood species. An SD+ account provides access to data entry and collection to generate QR codes and various forms and a real-time dashboard (tree inventory, transportation, and generated maps with details on forest/plantation management boundaries including identified conservation and utilization zones).

    Previously, interviews with local stakeholders found that smallholders struggle to understand how to sell forest products legally, with compliance with legal requirements listed as one of the most difficult barriers to harvesting high-risk species or harvesting on public land. The e-Tree platform provides digital access to smallholders with tools that help them achieve and demonstrate legal compliance, providing the documentation needed for them to sell their timber into legal and sustainable supply chains and enter into the National Single Window for international trade.

The UN-REDD Mekong Initiative and RFD are working with various stakeholders to link the e-Tree platform to other national initiatives related to promoting responsible timber production such as:

  • Thailand Forest Certification Council to utilize e-Tree as one of the tools for responsible sourcing;
  • Thailand’s Forest Industry Organization to manage traceability for their certified rubber latex and trees from their plantations;
  • Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to help with the existing national ‘Tree Bank’ initiative, by enabling the Bank to utilize the data in the e-Tree database as proof of registration and enable registered smallholders to apply for financial support;
  • Thai Hevea Wood Association training over 50 wood mill companies to use e-Tree to manage the source or origin of their raw materials.

Providing digital access to smallholders and SMEs to register their trees and land is an important way to increase green areas and diversify plantations, contributing to the achievement of Thailand’s goals on carbon neutrality and net-zero emissions.


For more information:

E-Tree website: https://etree.forest.go.th

The new e-Tree app enables online registration for trade in teak, and rosewood trees grown on private land. https://www.nationthailand.com/in-focus/30368240

TEFSO article: FLEGT VPA Ad-Hoc Working Group: Gearing up for the online self-declaration system and self-declaration of reclaimed timber products. https://tefso.org/en/ahwg4-2022_en/

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and the UN-REDD Lower Mekong Initiative team met with RFD Director-General reaffirming the commitment to collaboration to tackle deforestation

https://tefso.org/en/fao-eu-flegt-programme-and-sft-lmr-team-met-with-rfd-director-general-reaffirming-the-commitment-on-collaboration-to-tackle-deforestation/

 

 

By Erica Pohnan, UNFAO