An innovative approach to wood sample testing. FSC is part of a leading partner in an innovative project, reinventing how wood sample collection and forensic sciences can help us protect our forests worldwide. Traditional wood identification technologies have long made it possible for scientists to determine the genus, and/or family of a timber of a small piece of wood using forensic techniques. In short, the tests can tell both FSC and authorities whether a product is made from the genus, family and sometimes species of timber which it is claimed to be.

FSC Wood Reference Sample Collection
FSC International / Loa Dalgaard Worm


WorldForestID – a joint global collaboration

Since 2011, FSC has increasingly made use of wood identification technologies. Recently new technologies have made it possible to combine the information about species with very specific information about exactly where the timber was harvested from.

These tests include the use of stable isotope and DNA and have the potential to determine the forest from where the wood originated within a 10 kilometre radius. In other words, these new technologies make it possible for forest owners and companies to perform due diligence and easily prove the origin of their products down to the specific forest level.

But to be able to identify the origin of finished wood products, enough samples from that forest must be available to use these comparative sciences.

That is why FSC, US Forest Services, World Ressource Institute, Agrosiolab and Kew Gardens have joined forced to launch the WorldForestID project - a project which has set out to build the world’s largest database of geo-referenced wood samples from all regions of the world where illegal logging is an issue. Current databases of geo-referenced wood samples are very limited, especially from forests that are being illegally logged.

Collection of wood reference samples on a global scale

FSC collects wood reference samples directly from forests, either directly or through collaboration with national offices and certification bodies. It will expand this work across the 1,600 FSC-certified forests in all timber-producing regions of the world.

All reference samples collected will be sent to an open-source reference library established by FSC and our partners. The reference library is open to be used with any recognised wood identification technology.

Through this sample collection, we will not only ensure the credibility of the FSC system, but also strengthen efforts support companies and authorities in performing due diligence in our joint aim to tackle illegal logging worldwide.

Working with the world’s leading laboratories

We are working with credible partners such as Kew GardensAgroisolab, World Resource Institute, and the USDA US Forest Service Forest Service to create a global, open-source database based on a collective library of reference samples, where users can access the database, and sub-samples can be provided to bona fide researchers and/or labs upon request.

The library can be used to identify species and locations of harvest and will be accessible to everyone.This tool will add extra benefits to our work, going far beyond FSC certification and have a greater impact in combatting illegal logging worldwide. 

See more about the consortium and project here.

forests for the future

Forest for the future podcast series. Episode 8

06-08-2020. How can gathering wood samples around the world help fight illegal logging and help companies perform due diligence? FSC is reinventing how wood samples can play a role in timber origin verification in a joint project of strong allies. In this episode we dive deep into the project called World Forest ID and learn much more about why the project is so innovative and what it might mean for the future of our forests worldwide.

Listen now


Strengthening the FSC Supply Chain White Oak
PDF, Size: 3.92MB
Latin America Wood Reference Sample Project Description - 06/04/2018
PDF, Size: 258.49KB