Tracking illegally logged timber
We are developing a test case of DNA barcoding for application to track illegally logged timber. Illegal logging continues to be one of the major causes of deforestation and forest degradation, with between 14 and 16 million hectares of forest lost each year. At the same time, illegally sourced timber competes with sustainably produced timber and causes market distortions. The ability to identify species from timber products using DNA barcoding techniques would help reduce the flow of endangered species into the timber market. Furthermore for particularly valuable timber species, the ability to develop population or regional-level DNA barcodes, to verify that individuals come from a sustainably harvested source, would provide a mechanism to police illegally harvested timber products. We aim to develop a combination of methods (extraction of DNA from a range of processed timber products, verify genetic structure between species and across populations, and statistical methods that can be used to probabilistically verify or exclude source species or populations) for tracking illegally logged timber species.
Lowe AJ, Cross HB (2011) The Application of DNA to Timber Tracking and Origin Verification. Journal of the International Association of Wood Anatomists 32(2): 251-262.
Lowe AJ, Wong KN, Tiong Y-S, Iyerh S, Chew F-T (2010) A DNA Method to Verify The Integrity of Timber Supply Chains; Confirming The Legal Sourcing of Merbau Timber From Logging Concession to Sawmill. Silvae Genetica 59: 263-268.