App to combat illegal logging underway

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

March 8, 2021, 7:36 pm

MANILA – A mobile application (app) that will help combat illegal logging is currently being developed, an official of the Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) said.

The app will hasten accurate and quick identification of all timber and lumber products while in transit and subject to checks and inspection, FPRDI Director Romulo Aggangan told the Philippine News Agency on Monday.

"The app will replicate human wood anatomist. The image of wood’s cross (transverse) section will be captured by a camera. Through machine vision, the structure or pattern will be analyzed and recognized, and the species will be identified by comparing the image from the database of wood cross-section images stored in the system," he said.

This way, the app will help ensure that only those tree species allowed to be harvested or imported are transported and/or used by the wood-based industries.

Aggangan added that the app will quickly identify the wood or lumber, especially if the timber or lumber are illegally harvested or if these are banned timber or wood species.

"DOST-FPRDI is the authority in identification of wood and timber products in the country. It maintains more than 16,000 Philippine and foreign wood samples, and 2600 plant specimens," he said.

FPRDI is currently exploring the use of automated wood identification through machine vision, in cooperation with the US Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory, he continued.

The agency has also partnered with the US Forest Service for the development of the app. The project is being funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

"FPRDI will prepare the cross-section images, and will provide other technical information on initial species identified to be included in the app," he said.

FAO is currently in the process of hiring the app developer, according to Aggangan.

Meanwhile, he said that apart from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the furniture, handicraft, and other wood industries are also expected to benefit from the app. (PNA)