GTTN partner World Resources Institute (WRI) recently posted a blog article on how “DNA Testing Can Save Trees from Illegal Logging”. By referring to a scandalous case in 2015, when Washington state sawmill owner Harold Clause Kupers was found guilty for buying logs illegally harvested from Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the authors Jonathan Mason and Meaghan Parker-Forney are highlighting the potential of wood DNA analysis: Back then, to definitively prove that the timber in question was stolen, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) assembled a team of experts to collect and analyze DNA from wood sold by Kupers and from bigleaf maple specimens inside Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The DNA showed a match – scientists identified the exact stumps from which poachers had illegally harvested the logs.
Following Mason and Parker-Forney, researchers will now once again collect genetic samples from bigleaf maple trees in an effort to deter illegal logging. Instead of relying solely on professional scientists and law enforcement, outdoor enthusiasts up and down the west coast can also get involved. A field-data-gathering nonprofit called Adventure Scientists will train citizen science volunteers throughout bigleaf maple’s range – from southern California to British Columbia – to collect leaf and wood samples.
If you are interested in improving forest management, cracking down on illegal logging and perhaps even determining what makes the “figures” in figured bigleaf maple, check out the website of Adventure Scientists and apply to collect samples.
The entire WRI article you will find here.