The Centre of Competence combines the expertise of three Thünen Institutes.
The insitute has one of the worldwide largest scientific wood collections (Xylotheque), comprising samples of about 12,000 species of trees as well as 50,000 microscopic preparations. They serve as reference material for the identification of wood species by magnifying glass or by microscope.
The institute develops both genetical bar codes to determine the wood species and genetical reference maps to verify the geographical origin of wood. By means of genetical fingerprints the institute is able to trace valuable trees tamper-proof along the chain of processing and transport.
The institute develpos certification systems for traded timber and optimizes methods to proof the legality of timber along the trade currents. It investigates the preconditions for sustainable forestry worldwide with special emphasise of the tropics and analyses the timber market and the international trade currents in order to estimate the dimension of the illegal timber trade.