Genetic Infrastructure in Africa for timber verification


Developing DNA fingerprinting and other tools for verifying timber species and geographical origin claims in tropical Africa

To demonstrate the applicability of DNA fingerprints and stable isotopes, ITTO partnered with Thünen Institute of Forest Genetics in Germany, along with 14 collaborative agencies in Africa, Asia Pacific and Europe to implement Project PD 620/11 Rev.1 (M): "Development and implementation of species identification and timber tracking in Africa with DNA fingerprints and stable isotopes".

Three focus species were selected by representatives of the 7 participating African countries (Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya) for the development of DNA fingerprinting and stable isotope reference databases. These species - iroko, sapelli, ayous - are estimated to exceed 10 million m³ in yearly production, of which more than 1 million m³ is exported. They occur widely in participating countries and are economically important in tropical Africa. 

After more than 5,400 samples collected and 1,000 gene markers developed, a genographic reference map based on these data was created. This can verify claims of geographic origin on wood samples of the 3 species, by matching genetic markers from the sample to the genetic clusters in the reference data. This is also known as DNA fingerprinting.

With strong industry and on-the-ground exposure, DoubleHelix organised the project workshops in close collaboration with Thunen Institute. Read the full story here, as published in the ITTO Tropical Forest Update 24/1.