Timber Tracking: Striking the Balance between Diversification & Harmonisation to Tackle Global Problems

Timber is a natural resource that is all around us in the form of solid wood, fibreboard or veneer in constructions, furniture, decorations, … or as pulp and paper products, or in summer times as charcoal on the BBQ. Sustainable use of timber starts with legal use of timber. Illegal logging doesn’t respect management plans, (inter)national regulations, or people’s needs. Therefore, the Global Timber Tracking Network was started in 2012 as a network of stakeholders involved in timber research, industry or governance. The aim of the GTTN is to operationalise timber tracking tools to help implement the current regulations concerning the trade in timber (for the EU that is the EUTR).

Timber tracking based on the inherent wood characteristics is the only way to be sure that wood or a wood product at the end of the supply chain is what the documents say it is, and is hence legal. There are currently 6 different timber tracking methods that can reveal species and/or geographic identity. Depending on the exact identification question, one method will be more suitable than the other. Therefore, an infogram was developed to give an overview of the current capacities of the different timber tracking tools. The guide links to a list of all experts in timber tracking, currently know of in the world.

The infographic of timber tracking tools creates the perfect base to discuss the gaps and opportunities for further developments in the field of wood identification. Two critical parts of the wood identification process, open for more advancements are the collection of reference samples and the data analysis. With global timber supply chains there is a need for harmonization of procedures to secure the reputation of the different wood identification tools and to facilitate collaborations. Also, a common language is essential for any collaboration and hence for further innovations. Therefore, it is important to investigate the current barriers of information flow and to evaluate how much information we miss if we only consider English language literature.

Website Global Timber Tracking Network: https://globaltimbertrackingnetwork.org/

For further information please contact Dr. Nele Schmitz: