Fraud and misrepresentation in retail forest products exceeds U.S. forensic wood science capacity.
ABSTRACT: Fraud and misrepresentation in forest products supply chains is often associated with illegal logging, but the extent of fraud in the U.S. forest products market, and the availability of forensic expertise to detect it, is unknown. We used forensic wood anatomy to test 183 specimens from 73 consumer products acquired from major U.S. retailers, surveyed U.S. experts regarding their forensic wood anatomy capacity, and conducted a proficiency-testing program of those experts. 62% of tested products (45 of 73) had one or more type of fraudulent or misrepresented claim. Survey respondents reported a total capacity of 830 wood specimens per year, and participants' identification accuracy ranged from 6% to 92%. Given the extent of fraud and misrepresentation, U.S. wood forensic wood anatomy capacity does not scale with the need for such expertise. We call for increased training in forensic wood anatomy and its broader application in forest products supply chains to eliminate fraud and combat illegal logging.
Project description:Declining deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon are touted as a conservation success, but illegal logging is a problem of similar scale. Recent regulatory efforts have improved detection of some forms of illegal logging but are vulnerable to more subtle methods that mask the origin of illegal timber. We analyzed discrepancies between estimated timber volumes of the national forest inventory of Brazil and volumes of logging permits as an indicator of potential fraud in the timber industry in the eastern Amazon. We found a strong overestimation bias of high-value timber species volumes in logging permits. Field assessments confirmed fraud for the most valuable species and complementary strategies to generate a "surplus" of licensed timber that can be used to legalize the timber coming from illegal logging. We advocate for changes to the logging control system to prevent overexploitation of Amazonian timber species and the widespread forest degradation associated with illegal logging.
Project description:Forests, estimated to contain two thirds of the world's biodiversity, face existential threats due to illegal logging and land conversion. Efforts to combat illegal logging and to support sustainable value chains are hampered by a critical lack of affordable and scalable technologies for field-level inspection of wood and wood products. To meet this need we present the XyloTron, a complete, self-contained, multi-illumination, field-deployable, open-source platform for field imaging and identification of forest products at the macroscopic scale. The XyloTron platform integrates an imaging system built with off-the-shelf components, flexible illumination options with visible and UV light sources, software for camera control, and deep learning models for identification. We demonstrate the capabilities of the XyloTron platform with example applications for automatic wood and charcoal identification using visible light and human-mediated wood identification based on ultra-violet illumination and discuss applications in field imaging, metrology, and material characterization of other substrates.
Project description:The extent of tropical forest has been declining, due to over-exploitation and illegal logging activities. Large quantities of unlawfully extracted timber and other wood products have been exported, mainly to developed countries. As part of the export monitoring effort, we have developed methods for extracting and analyzing DNA from wood products, such as veneers and sawn timbers made from dipterocarps, in order to identify the species from which they originated. We have also developed a chloroplast DNA database for classifying Shorea species, which are both ecologically and commercially important canopy tree species in the forests of Southeast Asia. We are able to determine the candidate species of wood samples, based on DNA sequences and anatomical data. The methods for analyzing DNA from dipterocarp wood products may have strong deterrent effects on international trade of illegitimate dipterocarp products. However, the method for analyzing DNA from wood is not perfect for all wood products and need for more improvement, especially for plywood sample. Consequently, there may be benefits for the conservation of tropical forests in Southeast Asia.
Project description:Brazil recently began granting timber concessions in public forests to promote sustainable forest use. The effectiveness of this strategy hinges on the design and implementation of the concessions themselves as well as their competitive position within the logging sector as a whole. There is, however, a lack of information on the competitive interaction between legal and illegal logging and its effects on concessions profits. We address this knowledge gap by using a spatially explicit simulation model of the Amazon timber industry to examine the potential impact of illegal logging on timber concessions allocation and profits in a 30-year harvest cycle. In a scenario in which illegal logging takes place outside concessions, including private and public "undesignated" lands, concession harvested area would decrease by 59% due to competition with illegal logging. Moreover, 29 out of 39 National Forests (?74%) would experience a decrease in harvested area. This "leakage" effect could reduce concession net rents by up to USD 1.3 Billion after 30 years. Federal and State "undesignated" lands, if not adequately protected, could have 40% of their total volume illegally harvested in 30 years. Our results reinforce the need to invest in tackling illegal logging, if the government wants the forest concessions program to be successful.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The focus of REDD+ is sensu stricto on maintaining forest carbon stocks. We extend the scope of sustainable management of forest from forests to timber utilization, and study carbon offsets resulting from the utilization of harvested timber for bio energy or harvested wood products (HWPs). The emission budget of harvesting operations depends on the loss of standing biomass by timber extracted from the forest site and logging losses on the one side, and on the other on the wood end use and the utilization of processing residues. We develop two scenarios to quantify the magnitude of CO2 emissions by (1) energetic utilization, and (2) energetic and material utilization of harvested timber and compare the substitution effects for different fossil energy sources. RESULTS:The direct energetic use of harvested timber does not compensate for the losses of forest carbon stock. Logging residuals and displacement factors reflecting different wood use constitute by far the most important factor in potential emission reductions. Substitution effects resulting from energetic use of mill residuals and from HWPs have only a subordinated contribution to the total emissions as well as the type of fossil fuel utilized to quantify substitution effects. Material substitution effects associated with harvested wood products show a high potential to increase the climate change benefits. CONCLUSIONS:The observation and perception of REDD+ should not be restricted to sustainable management and reduced impact logging practices in the forest domain but should be extended to the utilization of extracted timber. Substitution effects from material and energetic utilization of harvested timber result in considerable emission reductions, which can compensate for the loss of forest carbon, and eventually contribute to the overall climate change mitigation benefits from forestry sector.
Project description:In some countries across the globe, tropical forest cover is increasing. The national-scale reforestation of Vietnam since 1992 is assumed to contribute to this recovery. It is achieved, however, by the displacement of forest extraction to other countries on the order of 49 (34-70) M m(3), or approximately 39% of the regrowth of Vietnam's forests from 1987 to 2006. Approximately half of wood imports to Vietnam during this period were illegal. Leakage due to policies restricting forest exploitation and displacement due to growing domestic consumption and exports contributed respectively to an estimated 58% and 42% of total displacement. Exports of wood products from Vietnam also grew rapidly, amounting to 84% of the displacement, which is a remarkable feature of the forest transition in Vietnam. Attribution of the displacement and corresponding forest extraction to Vietnam, the source countries or the final consumers is thus debatable. Sixty-one percent of the regrowth in Vietnam was, thus, not associated with displacement abroad. Policies allocating credits to countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation should monitor illegal timber trade and take into account the policy-induced leakage of wood extraction to other countries.
Project description:Tropical forest loss currently exceeds forest gain, leading to a net greenhouse gas emission that exacerbates global climate change. This has sparked scientific debate on how to achieve natural climate solutions. Central to this debate is whether sustainably managing forests and protected areas will deliver global climate mitigation benefits, while ensuring local peoples' health and well-being. Here, we evaluate the 10-y impact of a human-centered solution to achieve natural climate mitigation through reductions in illegal logging in rural Borneo: an intervention aimed at expanding health care access and use for communities living near a national park, with clinic discounts offsetting costs historically met through illegal logging. Conservation, education, and alternative livelihood programs were also offered. We hypothesized that this would lead to improved health and well-being, while also alleviating illegal logging activity within the protected forest. We estimated that 27.4 km2 of deforestation was averted in the national park over a decade (?70% reduction in deforestation compared to a synthetic control, permuted P = 0.038). Concurrently, the intervention provided health care access to more than 28,400 unique patients, with clinic usage and patient visitation frequency highest in communities participating in the intervention. Finally, we observed a dose-response in forest change rate to intervention engagement (person-contacts with intervention activities) across communities bordering the park: The greatest logging reductions were adjacent to the most highly engaged villages. Results suggest that this community-derived solution simultaneously improved health care access for local and indigenous communities and sustainably conserved carbon stocks in a protected tropical forest.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Tree species in the genus Cedrela P. Browne are threatened by timber overexploitation across the Neotropics. Genetic identification of processed timber can be used to supplement wood anatomy to assist in the taxonomic and source validation of protected species and populations of Cedrela. However, few genetic resources exist that enable both species and source identification of Cedrela timber products. We developed several 'omic resources including a leaf transcriptome, organelle genome (cpDNA), and diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may assist the classification of Cedrela specimens to species and geographic origin and enable future research on this widespread Neotropical tree genus. RESULTS:We designed hybridization capture probes to enrich for thousands of genes from both freshly preserved leaf tissue and from herbarium specimens across eight Meliaceae species. We first assembled a draft de novo transcriptome for C. odorata, and then identified putatively low-copy genes. Hybridization probes for 10,001 transcript models successfully enriched 9795 (98%) of these targets, and analysis of target capture efficiency showed that probes worked effectively for five Cedrela species, with each species showing similar mean on-target sequence yield and depth. The probes showed greater enrichment efficiency for Cedrela species relative to the other three distantly related Meliaceae species. We provide a set of candidate SNPs for species identification of four of the Cedrela species included in this analysis, and present draft chloroplast genomes for multiple individuals of eight species from four genera in the Meliaceae. CONCLUSIONS:Deforestation and illegal logging threaten forest biodiversity globally, and wood screening tools offer enforcement agencies new approaches to identify illegally harvested timber. The genomic resources described here provide the foundation required to develop genetic screening methods for Cedrela species identification and source validation. Due to their transferability across the genus and family as well as demonstrated applicability for both fresh leaves and herbarium specimens, the genomic resources described here provide additional tools for studies examining the ecology and evolutionary history of Cedrela and related species in the Meliaceae.
Project description:Selective logging of tropical forests is increasing in extent and intensity. The duration over which impacts of selective logging persist, however, remains an unresolved question, particularly for African forests. Here, we investigate the extent to which a past selective logging event continues to leave its imprint on different components of an East African forest 45?years later. We inventoried 2358 stems ?10?cm in diameter in 26 plots (200?m?×?10?m) within a 5.2?ha area in Kibale National Park, Uganda, in logged and unlogged forest. In these surveys, we characterized the forest light environment, taxonomic composition, functional trait composition using three traits (wood density, maximum height and maximum diameter) and forest structure based on three measures (stem density, total basal area and total above-ground biomass). In comparison to unlogged forests, selectively logged forest plots in Kibale National Park on average had higher light levels, different structure characterized by lower stem density, lower total basal area and lower above-ground biomass, and a distinct taxonomic composition driven primarily by changes in the relative abundance of species. Conversely, selectively logged forest plots were like unlogged plots in functional composition, having similar community-weighted mean values for wood density, maximum height and maximum diameter. This similarity in functional composition irrespective of logging history may be due to functional recovery of logged forest or background changes in functional attributes of unlogged forest. Despite the passage of 45?years, the legacy of selective logging on the tree community in Kibale National Park is still evident, as indicated by distinct taxonomic and structural composition and reduced carbon storage in logged forest compared with unlogged forest. The effects of selective logging are exerted via influences on tree demography rather than functional trait composition.
Project description:Species identification of unknown biological samples is of fundamental importance for forensic applications, especially in crime detection, poaching, and illegal trade of endangered animals as well as meat fraud. In this study, a novel panel was developed to simultaneously identify 10 different animal species (Gallus domesticus, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus, Ovis aries, Sus scrofa domesticus, Bos taurus, Equus caballus, Columba livia domestica, Rattus norvegicus, Mus musculus, and Canis lupus familiaris) and human beings by amplifying 22 short tandem repeat (STR) loci in a multiplex PCR using a set of five fluorescently labeled dyes. This novel 22-STR panel was validated by optimization of PCR conditions as well as species specificity, sensitivity, reproducibility, precision, DNA mixture, and tissue/organ consistency. The results of developmental validation showed that the 22-STR loci achieved high species specificity among 10 animal species and human beings, and the sensitivity of this panel was 0.09 ng. This 22-STR panel identified different meats in mixed samples, and the minimum detected mixture ratio in the current test was 10% (0.1 ng/1 ng). This sensitive, accurate, and specific 22-STR panel can be used for forensic species identification and the detection of meat fraud and adulteration.