The Royal Botanic Gardens will open their library of specimens with DNA and isotope data to help identifying species of illegally logged wood. This data can also give information about the geographical origin of wood. The project also aims to collect over 200 samples from up to five commonly traded wood species in FSC-certified forests of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Peru in the next year. Ultimately, it is hoped the work will expand to all 1,500 FSC-certified forests.
Professor Phil Stevenson, a plant chemist at Kew, told The Telegraph: “What’s becoming increasingly clear is that geographical information is essential to stop wood smuggling. Kew is the go-to organisation globally if you want to be able to get a bona fide specimen of wood to check if something else is that species.” The Kew collection includes more than 150,000 slide specimens of around 30,000 species, including nearly all species of wood.
Michael Marus, Chief Knowledge Officer at the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), said: “Being able to work with the leading forensic labs such as The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the US Forest Service Forest Products Lab and Agroisolab is a unique opportunity to develop a library of geo-referenced wood samples that will be made available to qualified labs across the world.”
Both US Forest Service and Agroisolab are GTTN active members and contribute to promoting the integrated use of innovative technologies for wood species identification and their geographic origin in order to deter illegal logging and related trade.