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Scientific methods for taxonomic and origin identification of timber

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Abstract

USERS OF THIS GUIDE: Authorities, traders, importers and all others interested in the current capacity of timber tracking methods for the taxonomy and geographical origin of timber (products). AIM OF THIS GUIDE: Inform about the scientific methods available for timber tracking (taxonomy and origin) and on the laboratories offering these identification services. This guide is a concise version of the scientifically more detailed Timber Tracking Tool Infogram.
www.globaltimbertrackingnetwork.org
Scientific methods for
taxonomic and origin
identification of timber
June 2020
Editor: Nele Schmitz
Recommended citation:
GTTN (2020). Schmitz, N. (ed.). Scientific methods for taxonomic and origin
identification of timber. Global Timber Tracking Network, GTTN Secretariat, European
Forest Institute and Thünen Institute.
Pictures: Victor Deklerck, Volker Haag, Justyna A. Nowakowska, Charlie Watkinson.
Acknowledgements: we thank Jez W.B. Braga, Victor Deklerck, Ed Espinoza, Manfred
Groening, Gerald Koch, Tereza C.M. Pastore, Tahiana Ramananantoandro, Hilke
Schröder, Charlie Watkinson and Alex C. Wiedenhoeft for their valuable comments
during the development of this guide and Jo Van Brusselen and José Bolaños from the
GTTN secretariat.
USERS OF THIS GUIDE:
Authorities, traders, importers and all others interested in the current capacity of timber
tracking methods for the taxonomy and geographical origin of timber (products).
AIM OF THIS GUIDE:
Inform about the scientific methods available for timber tracking (taxonomy and origin)
and on the laboratories offering these identification services. This guide is a concise
version of the scientifically more detailed Timber Tracking Tool Infogram.
Scientific methods for the verification of the taxonomy and/or the origin of the
timber based on anatomical, chemical or genetic characteristics of the wood.
Taxonomic identification Origin identification Both
WHAT ARE TIMBER TRACKING TOOLS & WHAT CAN THEY DO FOR YOU?
Genetics Genetics: The DNA, present in the wood, can be
investigated to identify the species, as well as the
geographic origin and the individual.
Anatomy: The cellular structure of wood varies between
families, genera and sometimes even species. It can be
investigated at macroscopic or microscopic level using
standard sets of anatomical features or by digital image
analysis.
Wood
anatomy
Scientific methods for timber tracking
Stable
isotopes
Chemistry: The chemical contents of wood can be studied using Direct Analysis in Real
Time (DART) Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (TOFMS), Near Infra-Red (NIR)
Spectroscopy or stable isotopes. DART TOFMS looks at wood chemicals. NIR
Spectroscopy looks at the surface of the wood, studying both wood chemicals and
physical characteristics of the wood, which can vary both between species and origins.
At this moment, however, DART TOFMS is only reliable for species identifications.
Stable isotopes are linked to environmental conditions and hence only vary between
origins of samples but not between species.
DART
TOFMS NIR
Spectroscopy
All timber identifications rely on having
reference samples, and these specimens
are the basis of determining if the trade
documents list the correct taxonomic
name(s) and geographic origin(s).
Essentials for a timber identification:
Reference sample
?
Unknown sample
Trade documents
WHICH TOOL SHOULD I USE?
The factors that determine which method is most suitable for your case are:
The question that needs to be answered (taxonomic identification at the family, genus or
species level, geographic origin at the level of region or individual tree).
The type of wood product (raw wood, veneer, plywood, other manufactured solid wood,
charcoal, particle board, pulp, paper or fibreboard).
The size of the sample that can be taken (smaller or bigger than 1 cm³).
PRACTICALITIES
The online service provider directory guides you through the above questions
and offers you a list of the possible laboratories that can perform the analysis.
You can contact the lab(s) of your choice and get an estimate of the costs and
time that will be needed for your specific case.
To get a geographic overview of the laboratories offering authentication analyses
for timber, you can consult the service provider map.
Family/genus/
species group
identification
Country/
area of harvest
identification
Species
identification Individual tree
identification
WHAT WOOD PRODUCTS CAN BE IDENTIFIED BY WHAT METHOD?
Pulp, paper,
fibreboard
Charcoal
* Including: raw wood, veneer, plywood, other manufacturedsolid wood
Taxonomic identification Origin identification
Both
WHICH METHODS CAN ANSWER WHICH IDENTIFICATION QUESTIONS?
Anatomy Genetics
Stable
isotopes
DART
TOFMS NIR
Spectroscopy
Particle board
Solid wood*
The objective of the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN) is to promote the operationalization of
innovative tools for wood identification and origin determination, to assist the fight against illegal logging
and related trade around the globe. GTTN is an open alliance that cooperates along a joint vision and the
network activities are financed through an open multi-donor approach. GTTN phase 2 coordination (2017-
2019) is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). GTTN phase 2 (2017-
2019) is coordinated by the European Forest Institute with the technical support from the Thünen Institute.
www.globaltimbertrackingnetwork.org
Coordinating partners
... The paucity of wood identification expertise [1,2] has spurred interest in automated wood identification technologies, especially in the context of combating illegal logging. Among the technologies considered [3], computer vision-based wood identification (CVWID) has been widely studied [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] and is highly effective [14], field-deployable [9,15], and in rare cases, field-tested [16]. Additionally, the democratization of CVWID technologies through affordable, open-source, do-it-yourself, hardware (e.g., the XyloTron (XT) platform [17]; the XyloPhone [18]) and robust, efficient software implementations of standard computer vision (CV) and machine learning (ML) techniques (e.g., [19][20][21][22]) can enable robust, multi-point monitoring of the wood and wood products value chain. ...
Article
Full-text available
Computer vision wood identification (CVWID) has focused on laboratory studies reporting consistently high model accuracies with greatly varying input data quality, data hygiene, and wood identification expertise. Employing examples from published literature, we demonstrate that the highly optimistic model performance in prior works may be attributed to evaluating the wrong functionality—wood specimen identification rather than the desired wood species or genus identification—using limited datasets with data hygiene practices that violate the requirement of clear separation between training and evaluation data. Given the lack of a rigorous framework for a valid methodology and its objective evaluation, we present a set of minimal baseline quality standards for performing and reporting CVWID research and development that can enable valid, objective, and fair evaluation of current and future developments in this rapidly developing field. To elucidate the quality standards, we present a critical revisitation of a prior CVWID study of North American ring-porous woods and an exemplar study incorporating best practices on a new dataset covering the same set of woods. The proposed baseline quality standards can help translate models with high in silico performance to field-operational CVWID systems and allow stakeholders in research, industry, and government to make informed, evidence-based modality-agnostic decisions.
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