Development and implementation of a species identification and timber tracking system in Africa with DNA fingerprints and stable isotopes in Africa
The projects aims to develop genetic and isotopic reference data to test the geographic origin of important African timber species
Illegal logging and associated trade are the cause of many economic and ecological problems both in timber producer and timber consumer countries. Although many legal instruments (EU timber trade regulation, US Lacey Act etc.) have been established to combat illegal logging and trade of illegally sourced timber, practical controls mechanisms to identify the tree species and geographic origin of wood and wood products are still lacking. DNA fingerprints and stables isotopes techniques use characters inherent to the timber (impossible to falsify) and the combination of both methods guarantee a high spatial resolution and a strong statistical power at higher cost efficiency for the control of origin of wood and wood products.
Within the ITTO project (2012-2015) we are developing and implementing tools to identify and control tree species and geographic origin using DNA fingerprints and stable isotopes in the following seven African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Dem. Rep, Congo Rep., Gabon, Ghana and Kenya. For the three economically important target species iroko (Milicia excelsa, M. regia), sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum) and ayou (Triplochiton scleroxylon) we are developing genetic and stable isotope reference data bases as a tool to control the declared geographic origin of wood. For these species we are sampling over the distribution area of the species leaves or cambium and wood samples. We are developing gene markers that show a high genetic differentiation among trees of different locations and work also for processed timber. The samples are screened for DNA fingerprints and stable isotopes and provide in this way a genetic and chemical reference data base to control the country of origin. Tools to identify the species will be further developed using DNA barcoding for 20 important African timber species. As measures of capacity building and technology transfer three reference labs in West-Africa (Kumasi, Ghana), Central-Africa (Libreville, Gabon) and East-Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) are getting established and staff of these labs but also from other African groups are getting trained to apply DNA-techniques and wood anatomy to identify the tree species and to perform simple DNA tests to check the origin.
1.2012 - 7.2015
Project status: finished