A new method makes detecting illegal logging easier

A new method makes detecting illegal logging easier

About the episode

The trade in illegally felled trees is a major problem around the world. It threatens some of the world's most important ecosystems.

That's why scientists are increasingly trying to find better ways to combat this. A new method of analyzing timber should now make it easier to show where a tree should stand before it is felled.

The problem of illegal logging became worse when Russia invaded Ukraine. Despite the sanctions, Russian timber continues to find its way into the European Union and the United States. This is achieved by forging certificates stating that the wood comes from a completely different place.

But trees bear the effects of their environment in various ways. For example, from the soil in which it grows, or from the air and climate that surrounds it. The chemical prints this leaves behind can be read. Algorithms can then be used to determine if the stated country of origin is also correct.

They tested it on 900 Eastern European wood samples from diverse and commonly used tree species. This showed that they could accurately pinpoint the source of the tree at a distance of 200 kilometers.

Yes, it could be more accurate, but the database they have created with this can be supplemented and used all over the world. The more data it contains, the more accurate the selection becomes. Hopefully this will result in us being able to protect forests and important tree species a little better.

Read more about the research here: Researchers can detect illegal timber exports

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