Democratic Republic of Congo Fights Illegal Logging with AS&Es Z Backscatter Vans

American Science and Engineering, Inc. (AS&E), provider of X-ray detection technology, recently announced the receipt of an order for two Z Backscatter Vans (ZBV) funded by The World Bank and procured by SGS, an inspection, verification, testing, and certification company, for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

AS&E’s Z Backscatter Van (ZBV) is a non-intrusive mobile inspection system on the market. The ZBV system is a highly mobile screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV system allows for immediate deployment in response to security threats, and its high throughput capability facilitates rapid inspections.

In this first ever use of X-ray inspection systems in the DRC for smuggled wood detection, the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Tourism (MENCT), will work with SGS to implement, operate, and maintain AS&E’s ZBV systems with added Forwardscatter® capabilities to detect tropical wood that is illegally logged and smuggled out of the country.

The DRC’s ZBV deployment is part of the country’s launch of a new program to fight illegal logging and exportation of wood and timber — a significant concern. Five hundred thousand cubic meters of timber are officially harvested each year in the DRC, yet the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) estimates that unofficial logging more than doubles that total.

“We are working with the DRC’s Ministry of the Environment to provide innovative solutions to monitor forestry activities on their borders,” said Anthony Fabiano, AS&E President and CEO. “With its mobility and flexibility to move from location to location, the ZBV system is an ideal solution to scan trucks on the border to find smuggled tropical wood in cargo. The system offers unparalleled ability to detect and image organic materials, including wood.”
With the second largest tropical forest in the world, the DRC forests are critical to the world’s climate. Over half of the DRC is covered in tropical forest, a resource which is critical to the economy of the country’s 71 million inhabitants. According to estimates by the UN, if the current rate of timber exploitation continues, as much as two-thirds of the Congo Basin forest will disappear by 2040.


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