The Role of Chemical and Genetic Analysis in Stopping Illegal Timber

Read the latest on Russian timber products...

Picture of Russian Forest Landscape. Credit to: step-svetlana

World Forest ID, a non-profit organization working with the U.S. Forest Service, has developed a library of global wood samples with unique chemical and genetic properties that it believes can prevent illegal trade in finished products with banned wood raw materials.

Trade in finished wood products presents complicated detection issues, including tracing its origin. The wood may have been milled and manufactured in geographic areas downstream some distance from its forest origins making detection difficult.

In a recent example, World Forest ID cited success in discovering Russian wood in a large volume of finished products that were imported to Belgium, in violation of European Union sanctions against Russian timber products after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

World Forest ID cites its library of 35,000 unique samples, which continues to grow.

However, the broad assortment of raw wood materials presents a formidable challenge. The technology was successful in identifying the true origin of 82 percent of falsely identified wood coming from Russia, but only 47 percent coming from neighboring Belarus, which faces similar restrictions based on its support for Russia in the war.

More information about World Forest ID and its technology is available here.

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