FSC supports the Wageningen University’s Timtrace Project in Central Africa

FSC / Marius Čepulis
 Low angle shot of a tree brand with mushrooms
FSC / Marius Čepulis
January 25, 2022
Category : Standards

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is sponsoring a part of Wageningen University’s Timtrace Project in Central Africa for the collection and analysis of 240 wood reference samples of Azobé (Lophira alata) and Tali (Erythrophleum spp) species.

An additional 80 wood samples will be collected following WorldForestID protocol and sent to the laboratory of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the United Kingdom. Samples will be collected from FSC-certified and non FSC-certified forests; two forest concessions in the Republic of Congo and Gabon, each. Sophisticated stable isotope, elemental and genetic analyses will be conducted on the samples.

With FSC’s sponsorship, the Timtrace Project will be able to increase its scope of sample collection by 35 per cent in Central Africa. The Timtrace project aims to deliver a timber tracing tool to potential users, including certification schemes like FSC, by developing a library of different tropical timber species, filed according to their geographic ID, which is based on unique chemical and genetic markers. By sponsoring the Timtrace Project, FSC is enabling the process of building a robust reference database of tropical timber species from Central Africa, which are used in various products sold across the world, especially in Europe.

Wood identification techniques are increasingly becoming an important method of determining the provenance and legality of timber used in various products across the world. Towards this end, FSC is part of a consortium of organizations called the WorldForestID, which is an innovative approach to wood sample testing. Other members of this consortium are World Resource Institute, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Kew), U.S. Forest Service International Programs (USFS IP), and Agroisolab. This consortium of organizations aims to build the largest, geo-referenced, open-source wood sample collection that can be used to trace the origins of timber. Therefore, it will become possible to test the legality of timber used in a product, flag instances of false claims, and highlight possible cases of illegal logging.

FSC believes that wood identification techniques can play a very important role in ensuring the credibility and integrity of FSC-certified products. Therefore, FSC will increasingly use wood identification techniques to address integrity risks in the supply chains of its certificate holders. FSC has been using wood identification techniques since 2011 and provides certificate holders affordable sample testing services. Going forward, FSC plans to integrate sample testing as a due diligence mechanism within its certification scheme.

For more information about FSC’s collaboration with WorldForestID, listen to this podcast.

You can read about the Timtrace team’s experiences of collecting samples in Gabon in this blog article.