The Wood Identification & Screening Center (WISC) recently opened in Oregon State University to act against timber crime around the world. The support of the College of Forestry, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, allows the WISC to increase its reference database and the use of innovative wood identification technology to certify the species and origin of different timber products. WISC’s method of direct analysis in real time of flight mass spectrometry (known as DART TOFMS) consists in the use of a fragment of wood to determine its genus and species very fast.
The import of wood from illegal sources is prohibited in the United States and it represents an annual loss of $ 1 billion dollars to the country’s wood products industry. As stated by the interim dean of the College of Forestry, Anthony S. Davis: “The illegal timber trade is a direct attack on sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems in Oregon and other parts of the country, and also abroad.”
Another example of recent efforts taken to strengthen the measures to fight timber crime is the case of Eli Vlaisavljevich, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, who was granted a $1 million dollar fund from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to research on technology for fast extraction of DNA from timber and plant tissue.