The Thünen Centre of Competence on the Origin of Timber

Global changes and developments in the international trade with wood and wood products, amongst others

  • excessive exploitation of economically important tropical tree species,
  • increasing imports of so-called “lesser known substitute species”,
  • trade in timber from CITES-protected tree species,

require reliable control mechanisms for a doubtless identification of timber species and of their geographic origin. The identification of timber species is also important for the assessment of product properties (consumer protection) as „lower-grade“ substitute timbers are imported at a distinctly increasing rate.

As a contribution to global forest protection a new EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into effect on March 3rd, 2013. Under the EUTR, placing illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber on the EU market is prohibited. The Regulation applies to wood and wood based products being placed for the first time on the EU market. EU operators – those who place timber products on the EU market for the first time – are required to exercise ‘due diligence’. Should questions emerge by the monitoring on the correct declaration of the wood or should suspicions arise that protected wood species are being traded, the Thünen Centre of Competence on the Origin of Timber makes its expertise available. The competence centre is a central contact facility for government agencies, the timber trade, consumers and associations to verify the species of wood and/or wood products and their origin. The competence centre is able to determine wood samples accurately at the genus or species level and can check claims on the geographical origin of an increasing number of tree types.

Ein Caterpillar, der mit seinme Zangenarm einen gefällten Baumstamm durch den tropischen Wald zieht.

International certification systems which verify the legality and sustainability of forest management are being further developed to be aligned to the EUTR requirements. In addition criteria for legality assurance assessments s are being optimized.

Wood trade flows and wood markets are continuously being analyzed to provide information for governances, manufacturers, traders and consumers. At the same time, countries and products at particular risk are becoming evident.

The experts at the Thünen Centre of Competence cooperate internationally with other  scientific facilities and are developing partnerships in the appropriate countries.

The Centre of Competence combines the expertise of the three Thünen Institutes of Wood Research, Forest Genetics, and International Forestry and Forest Economics, responsible for wood identification, proof of origin, certification and timber trade structures.