Frequently asked questions

What key information can Timber Chain store and use to build trust across a supply chain and aid due diligence?

Timber Chain has been designed to store an unlimited range of data and information including: 

  • Any relevant documentation required for a shipment to be exported from a producer country. For instance, packing lists, bills of lading, permit harvests, CoC / FMU certificates. 
  • Third party endorsements of claims – certification claims, or claims about origin, species, logging permits, etc. 
  • Geo-location (which can be endorsed by a third party)
  • Science-based testing analysis (to prove species, origin, etc.)

The entire purpose of Timber Chain is to collect a range of data and information as trust points related to timber trading between participants, secure them in one place, and then allow them to be shared securely and/or privately. 

Does Timber Chain certify the legality and sustainability of timber?

Timber Chain does not establish or issue timber certification. It is not a new standard, and is not a certification body. It is a vehicle on which to manage due diligence or supply chain information.

How does Timber Chain perform document verification so that I can trust what I see?

Timber Chain has been designed to ensure that data, information and documents (such as invoices, export licences, harvesting permits, etc.) logged onto the platform by participants can be endorsed by relevant third parties. This mechanism helps prevent the challenge of ‘rubbish in → rubbish out’ and adds extra trust that claims and documentation are authentic. 

Timber Chain itself does not verify documentation.

  • Each Timber Chain user is assigned an identity, meaning they are accountable for data quality (of the data they input onto Timber Chain). 
  • This operating model has resulted in both checks made by participants in the chain increasing to ensure that the levels of data error, missing documents, etc. declines. 
  • Checking document validity can be performed by a reputable third party. If a verifier is connected to a user, they have the option to verify the documents on Timber Chain to prove their validity after performing checks.

Why does Timber Chain use Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)?

Timber Chain manages supply chain information on a platform that uses principles of blockchain, or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). DLT has been selected for Timber Chain because:

  • It demonstrates a trustable, high level of transparency and security (compared to other alternatives). 
  • It is ideally suited for transactions between different organisations which require a degree of trust. In this sense DLT links existing traceability systems along a chain, adding extra security.
  • Data is stored in a secure digital ledger forever, making future requests for documentation seamless.
  • It is immutable (tamperproof) and ensures that once data is uploaded it cannot be maliciously tampered with. 

What are the advantages of using Timber Chain over other timber traceability systems?

Different traceability systems suit different user needs. Our aim is to compliment other traceability systems, by offering the below unique advantages:

  • Timber Chain enables CoC shipment information to be secured (via cryptographic hashes of data relating to wood transactions) and privately stored in a tamperproof digital ledger – a one stop shop for real time and historical compliance documentation.
  • Shipment data and claims can be checked, certified and endorsed by reputable third parties. E.g., a verifier, certifier, geo-spatial imagery, science-based testing
  • Timber Chain offers volume tracking throughout the entire supply chain to enable volumes of timber, as well as conversion rates during transformation, to be tracked and checked from link to link across the supply chain
  • Links are created from one supplier to another, within one specific supply chain. This form of supply chain mapping goes beyond the ‘1 up / 1 down’ functionality of many other systems
  • Timber Chain connects verification and certification (from different certifiers and different schemes) at each point in the supply chain, capturing transparency in a controlled way (useful for auditing purposes)
  • Participants in Timber Chain have full control over their confidential commercial information, enabling them to grant permission to trusted parties (of their choice) to see their information
  • Compliance checks are time stamped on the underlying ledger, equipping organisations to demonstrate that due diligence has been performed at a specific point in time (e.g., before receiving a shipment)

If Timber Chain is recording data on an immutable ledger, does this mean that data cannot be edited once it is recorded?

Timber Chain provides its users the ability to edit already recorded data, however, each change is reflected in the history of the record, with “old” information still being available for checking against the records on the immutable ledger.

For example, if a user has made a typo in the name of the mill that has processed the wood in a particular stock – they can simply edit the information and save it, which will result in the following steps:

  1. The stock information will be updated;
  2. A new claim will be created on the iov42 immutable ledger with the new information (the old claim with the typo will still be available);
  3. A new item will be added to the history section of the stock showing which value has changed;

Those who have access to the stock information will now be able to see which change has been made, but will also be able to approve what the previous value has been and all of the verifications (digital signatures / endorsements) that value has had.

Since data is recorded on a “blockchain”, does this mean that everyone can see it?

iov42’s core platform is a permissioned DLT (distributed ledger technology) solution, which means that its users determine who has access to their information (and which information as well) stored on the immutable ledger (“blockchain”).

Additionally, the data on the immutable ledger is stored in hashed form, which means that it cannot be made use of unless the person checking it has the original (unhashed) data available to be able to hash it and compare it to the hash stored on the immutable ledger.

The data stored on Timber Chain (i.e. outside of the iov42 immutable ledger) is also protected by a set of permissions that the users can either grant or restrict. For example, the shipment data only becomes available to the importer once the exporter has established a connection with them and has explicitly shared the shipment data with them.

Do all my suppliers and customers have to be on Timber Chain for me to use it?

No. We realise the fact that some organisations might not have the capacity or the means to upload their data to Timber Chain, therefore, we allow downstream members to upload data on behalf of their upstream suppliers. This ensures that full traceability data is available for due diligence and auditing purposes.

We also provide the means for Timber Chain users to share their outputs (shipments / deliveries / sales / etc.) with their customers who are not members of Timber Chain. This can be done via password-protected share links that are limited to one entity (i.e. 1 shipment / 1 delivery / etc.).

Can data be migrated from my existing system to Timber Chain?

Yes. We provide our users with the ability to upload XLSX files with data exports from their existing systems. This data can then be uploaded to Timber Chain and recorded on the immutable ledger (“blockchain”) in one go.  Document scans / digital documents can also be included by archiving both the XLSX file and the documents (in PDF format) and uploading the archive onto Timber Chain.

Which certification standards does Timber Chain support?

Timber Chain is standard agnostic, and is also suited for non-certified timber. This means that even organisations that are not pursuing certification, but still would like to demonstrate the soundness of their operations (by providing all of the necessary information to their customers and authorities) can use Timber Chain to trace their wood-based products.

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