Wood Reference Sample Collection

Traditional wood identification technologies have long made it possible for scientists to determine the genus, and/or family of a timber of a small piece of wood using forensic techniques. In short, the tests can tell both FSC and authorities whether a product is made from the genus, family and sometimes species of timber which it is claimed to be.

FSC Wood Reference Sample Collection
FSC International / Loa Dalgaard Worm

Global timber referencing project

Since 2011, FSC has increasingly made use of wood identification technologies. Recently new technologies have made it possible to combine the information about species with very specific information about exactly where the timber was harvested from.

These tests include the use of stable isotope and DNA, and have the potential to determine the forest from where the wood originated within a 10 kilometre radius. In other words, these new technologies make it possible for forest owners and communities under pressure from illegal logging to protect their market share, because it is possible to prove that the timber comes from their forests.

But to be able to identify the origin of finished wood products, enough samples from that forest must be available to use these comparative sciences.

That is why FSC, US Forest Services and Kew Gardens have joined forced to launch the Global Timber Referencing Project. The project has set out to build the world’s largest database of geo-referenced wood samples from all regions of the world where illegal logging is an issue. Current databases of geo-referenced wood samples are very limited, especially from forests that are being illegally logged.

Collection of wood reference samples on a global scale

FSC collects wood reference samples directly from forests. It will expand this work across the 1,600 FSC-certified forests in all timber-producing regions of the world.

All reference samples collected will then be sent to an open-source reference library established by FSC and our partners. The reference library is open to be used with any recognised wood identification technology.

Through this sample collection, we will not only ensure the credibility of the FSC system, but also strengthen efforts to tackle illegal logging worldwide.

FSC national offices receive five free traditional wood anatomy testing samples annually, and FSC continually calls for reference samples from forest management units.

Working with the world’s leading laboratories

We are working with credible partners such as Kew GardensAgroisolab, the University of Tennessee, and the USDA US Forest Service Forest Service to create a global, open-source database based on a collective library of reference samples, where users can access the database, and sub-samples can be provided to bona fide researchers and/or labs upon request.

The library can be used to identify species and locations of harvest and will be accessible to everyone.  This tool will add extra benefits to our work, going far beyond FSC certification and have a greater impact in combatting illegal logging worldwide. 


FSC_Strengthening the FSC Supply Chain_White Oak.pdf
PDF, Size: 3.92MB
Latin America Wood Reference Sample Project Description 6 April 2018.pdf
PDF, Size: 258.49KB
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