The Royal Forest Department (RFD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have formally launched eTree, a digital platform designed to support growers register the trees they are growing to sell as timber.
Jointly developed by the RFD and FAO, eTree has been tested and used in registering more than 645,000 trees grown for commercial purposes on around 37,000 rai of land by more than 5,000 people, said Boonsuthee Jeravongpanich, director of the Forest Economics Office (FEO).
The eTree platform is intended specifically for people who are interested in growing trees for sale but are unable to register the land they intend to grow them on commercially as a “forest plantation” under the Forest Plantation Act, he said.
With eTree, these timber farmers will find it easier to manage their farms and declare the trees they are growing to the authorities, Mr Boonsuthee said, adding this will also make it easier for them when it comes to cutting down the grown trees and transporting them elsewhere for sale.
Having the complete ownership details of every tree recorded in the database via the eTree platform will serve as a legal certificate, recognised worldwide, when they sell the timber later, Mr Boonsuthee said.
“This will enable the growth of Thailand’s timber industry and make the industry more sustainable,” he added.
Under the 20-year national strategic plan, the country aims to increase forest cover from 31.68% of the country at present to 40% by 2037, meaning 27 million more rai will be needed for growing trees, he said.
Under the arrangement between the RFD and FAO, eTree has been tested and used for several years, during which time the platform has proven useful in supporting the practice of timber and community forest growing, said Chongsathit Angwitthayathon, the representative for the sustainable timber trade programme of the UN-REDD in Thailand.
More importantly, he said, eTree is proving useful in increasing the country’s legal forest plantations, which also helps curb illegal logging.