An estimated 10% of wood imported into Australia consists of illegally traded timber, which has been cut down outside designated logging areas or outside agreed environmental controls. Australian companies have been the first in the world to purchase timber products that use DNA fingerprinting, as part of proof of legal origin starting back in 2007 European and American importers are now following suit.
Jonathan Geach, a Director of DoubleHelix, says: "As the technology is now proven scientifically and commercially, we're looking at a large-scale application in the Congo Basin, as well as working with governments in Europe and America to tighten the grip on illegal timber trade.
"Having Professor Lowe as a leading researcher from the University of Adelaide and as an active member of our team has been tremendously important in driving the role of DNA tracing in timber internationally."
Professor Lowe says a number of improvements in genetic marker methods still need to be made, such as for old or degraded wood samples. "Nevertheless, the advances in the use of DNA to identify wood are exciting," he says.
This research is closely aligned with another major project, to develop a 'DNA barcode' for every tree and grass species on earth. "The Barcode of Life projects will take five years to complete, but the information will lead to a step change in the way we can manage our species and ecosystems right across the globe," Professor Lowe says.
|Contact: Andrew Lowe|
University of Adelaide