DNA fingerprinting of timber helps track illegal logging

The application of DNA to timber tracking is another milestone in the valuable use of DNA in tackling crime.

Australian Geographic recently featured an article on this technology that is generating significant interest in the timber industry. The DNA testing technology is developed by researchers from the Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology & Biodiversity at the University of Adelaide, and a company in Singapore. It is being applied to help identify illegal logging.

The technology assesses whether or not a wood product is derived from a sustainable plantation or, illegally, from a protected area. We have the potential with this to trace and match timber samples to the area the wood came from. This could be done from sources as diverse as furniture to timber decking and more, by extracting a DNA fingerprint from a timber product.

Professor Andrew Lowe, director of the Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity at the University of Adelaide says “The advancement of genetics technologies means that large-scale screening of wood-DNA can be done cheaply, routinely, quickly and with a statistical certainty that can be used in a court of law – certification documents can be falsified, but DNA cannot“. Article here

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