Methods for timber tracking in tropical forests

To support the implementation of sustainable forest management in Bolivia through developing methods to detect illegal logging. Effective control strategies are required to counteract the illegal harvesting and trade of tropical timber. To this end, chemical analysis, DNA and stable isotopes may be applied as they allow tracking the origin of timber.

In this study, we selected one of the major South American timber genera, Cedrela, that includes species which are CITES-listed, to assess the potential for timber tracking based on chemical analysis, DNA techniques and stable isotopes composition of wood.

We will use these techniques for species identification and to trace geographic origin of wood in Bolivia, a country harbouring several Cedrela species and exporting large quantities of timber obtained from these species. Leaves and wood samples will be taken from stands of origin (populations) of Cedrela sp. Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Mass Spectrometry will be used to describe the chemotaxonomic relationship in timber of Cedrela samples and assess the ability to distinguish species and georeference wood samples.

Secondly, genotyping with selected DNA-markers will be used for characterization of population genetic structure, correlate genetic and geographic distances and evaluate potential for tracing geographic origin at fine spatial resolution.

Finally, stable isotopes will also be analysed throughout the range of two Cedrela species and its correlation to rainfall and geographic gradients will be used to evaluate potential as a provenancing tool.

For all three methods, assignment tests will be carried out to statistically differentiate between individuals from various populations or regions. Blind test with anonymous wood samples will also be done to confirm the information obtained through the matching.