Trees with Barcodes…hmmmm

You know how smart phones have created special bar codes (QR codes) on everything from paintings at art museums to ads in magazines? 

I don’t have a smart phone, so the whole thing is a little weird to me.  I think it’s great that people can use technology to get more information, but these scans seem rarely used for anything more than trying to sell you something.  Maybe I’m just a phone square.

Or maybe I’m just a label square.

Andrew Price at Good Magazine writes that Liberia will soon begin barcoding its trees:

The African country of Liberia is blessed with lush rainforests full of pygmy hippos, Diana monkeys, duikers, and lots of valuable trees. But when Charles Taylor started plundering the forests to fund his forces in the country’s civil war, the UN placed sanctions on Liberian timber.

Now President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wants to establish a legitimate timber trade to boost the Liberian economy. To that end, she has signed a deal with the European Union that would require companies bringing Liberian lumber into the EU to have proof that it’s legal. To make that possible, every legally harvestable tree and every cut log would have to carry a barcode that makes it traceable…

Making sure harvests stay within sustainable limits will be difficult and corruption may still undermine the integrity of the system. But some think Liberia could be pioneering a new model for legal, sustainable logging. According to Frank Hawkins, who leads Conservation International’s efforts in Africa, “Liberia has an opportunity to show the world how it is done.”

We tag everything.  We tag animals at the zoo, clothes, and soldiers, we microchip our pets and children, and mark the garden with plant labels and new territories – even the moon – with flags.  Are all these labels and tags and markers and flags helpful?  I’m a little skeptical.

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