Australia Backs World Forest ID Database to End Illegal Logging

Find out how DNA Testing is being used to rid the world of conflict timber and illegal logging.

Mon 11 Dec 23


The Australian Government is backing state-of-the-art technology to build the world’s largest timber database, which will be used to eliminate illegal logging.

It will see the development of a new database that could go live as soon as the second half of 2024, involve Australian-based testing services, and use wood collections to host the samples.

Last month, Wood Central revealed that illegal logging was surging, leading to the UN Office Responsible for Drugs and Crime setting up a special department to manage forest crime.

Announced by Murray Watt, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, on Friday, the Australian Government has awarded a $1.2 million grant to US-based World Forest ID (WFID) to create a reference database for the verification of species and origin of harvest.

WFID partners with labs and governments, including Australia, NGOs and universities, to recruit specialised collectors.

“Every collector goes through rigorous training to ensure collections follow our strict protocols and adhere to an equally strict chain of custody,” according to WFID.

Wood Central understands the grant will also assist Australia’s neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region, including PNG and the Solomon Islands, which operate significant trade with Chinese manufacturers.

“We will also work closely with our Asia-Pacific neighbours to cover trees that are often the target of illegal logging and better protect forests in our region, in a true win-win scenario,” Minister Watt said.

“WFID is a centralised, global and openly accessible database that can be used for timber testing and identifying species and origins of timber products.”

The WFID has been formed by an international group of organisations, bringing expertise in forestry, traceability and biological sciences “to create a new global standard in species and origin verification.” 

It has already collected 2163 samples from 290 species in 28 countries, with the data “ensuring that consumers are not sold a lie,” according to the WFID website. 

“Expanding the database to include key species traded into Australia will improve our ability to detect illegally logged timber and prevent it from entering the market,” Minister Watt said.

“With this, we can further protect Australia’s sustainable and legal forest industries from being undercut by illegally logged timber products.”

“The work will be led by WFID and supported by the internationally recognised Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and collaborating experts within the WFID Science Advisory Group.”


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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