This case study focuses on smart forest projects using remote sensing, ubiquitous computing and supply-chain monitoring technologies to understand how forests are observed and governed for resource extraction.

Observational technologies of tracking and tracing specifically configure, as well as propose, ways of acting on forests.1 Technologies and techniques for observing deforestation mobilize and legitimate distinct actors to address this problem, while multiple other actors are often excluded from these same sites of social–political relevance and action.

NASA: Remote sensing deforestation in the Amazon

Observation is further entangled with strategies such as transparency2 and auditing,3 which are proposed as ways to better manage the problem of deforestation but that also present distinct limits to the actors and practices that might be involved in evidentiary techniques. The analysis of observational technologies and networks is a key area of study for understanding how forests become a global environmental problem through specific observational practices, as well as the social–political effects of these environmental data practices.


  1. Björk, A, Erlandsson, M, Häkli, Jet al. (2011) Monitoring environmental performance of the forestry supply chain using RFID. Computers in Industry 62(8–9): 830–841.
  2. Ballestero, A (2012) Transparency short‐circuited: Laughter and numbers in Costa Rican water politics. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 35(2): 223–241.
  3. Asdal, K (2008) Enacting things through numbers: Taking nature into account/ing. Geoforum 39(1): 123–132.