Scientific support of the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN II)
The Global Timber Tracking Network will promote the operationalization of innovative tools for wood identification and origin determination, to assist the fight against illegal logging and related trade worldwide.
Unsustainable and illegal logging as well as related trade cause many economic and ecological problems both in producer and in consumer countries. It is one of the major causes for the loss of biodiversity. Although practical control mechanisms against such unsustainable and illegal practices have been established they are not widely used yet. Methods to identify the origin of timber and wood products are fundamental prerequisites for improving the sustainability of forest management and wood products through efficient import controls by industry and the trade.
Currently used timber tracking systems are based on paper documentation of tree species and origin and are hence falsifiable. The innovative technologies the GTTN aims to further develop and promote are based on characteristics inherent to the wood (anatomical, genetic, chemical composition). In certain cases, the combination of both methods, such as DNA-fingerprints and stable isotopes, has the advantage that a higher spatial resolution and stronger statistical power for the control system can be expected. The methods and their applications for timber tracking advanced a lot during recent years and continue to advance. The progress has been regularly discussed in international workshops and during conferences of the first phase of GTTN. Currently genetic reference data for geographic tracking of about 15 important tree species have been developed.
The first phase of GTTN was a three-year pilot project (2012-2014) financed by the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and coordinated by Bioversity International. The second phase of GTTN (2016-2019), with the continued support of the BMEL, will be coordinated by the European Forest Institute (EFI). GTTN is intended as a global platform bringing together researchers specialised in timber tracking (via genetics, stable isotopes, wood anatomy, chemistry or other methods), law enforcement authorities, forestry and timber sector and governmental as well as non-governmental organisations to address issues in a holistic way and to promote the integrated use of innovative technologies to fight illegal logging and associated trade worldwide. While many studies have demonstrated the potential of DNA barcodes and stable isotope markers for timber species identification and tracking, and the technology is already implemented successfully in practice, the use of such technologies at a broader scale requires coordinated international efforts involving all stakeholders concerned about illegal logging and associated trade.
all stakeholders concerned about illegal logging and associated trade
The Thuenen-Institute of Forest Genetics is part of the GTTN secretary and supports the coordimnation of EFI with scientific expertise.
The main objective of GTTN II will remain the promotion of the integrated use of innovative technologies such as DNA fingerprinting and stable isotope analysis together with other existing technologies to combat illegal logging and associated trade worldwide. Building on the results and experiences of the first phase, GTTN II will continue to further develop and expand the network, seek new partnerships, new funding sources and (active) collaboration.
Based on existing knowledge and technologies, GTTN via its network of experts in research, industry, policy and advocacy will further develop, apply and promote tools. The GTTN will increase the number of species and places for which timber can be tracked and optimize methods. It will do so by bringing together researchers in the different methods to allocate tasks among partners, solve issues by sharing experiences, integrate methods and by aligning this scientific power with the needs on the ground. To facilitate capacity building and assessment of illegality in the complex network of global timber supply chains the GTTN will develop international standards. Best practices will be set-up for the different timber tracking tools and for all stages from sampling to data analysis to create a GTTN delivering comparable data and quality data. These data can then be stored in an online database with geo-referenced DNA and stable isotope data that will be further developed from the prototype built during the first phase of GTTN. In addition to this data repository (for use by registered researchers) the database will also contain a public part that will link questions on timber species or geographical origin to experts in timber tracking tools worldwide.
Finally, the GTTN website (www.globaltimbertrackingnetwork.org) will continue to provide relevant up-to-date information, including links to relevant projects, institutes, publications and meetings. It will serve as a platform to facilitate information exchange and networking among all stakeholders concerned, specifically promoting complementary work between tracking methods using gene markers and stable isotopes. The website will also provide a link to the GTTN database providing reference data and information on testing laboratories and their services and links to existing databases for tree species identification and timber tracking.
11.2016 - 12.2019
Project status: ongoing