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Developing DNA-based Chain of Custody Systems for Legally-Sourced Teak

This Small Research Activity (SRA) aims to develop DNA-based legality verification and chain of custody systems for teak in Laos, Indonesia, Solomon Islands and PNG, where ACIAR has teak projects. In Myanmar and Thailand, it will make sure the teak DNA database represents the SE Asian natural forest and plantations from which teak is harvested. This project builds on two SRAs (FST/2014/028 and FST/2015/007) that developed DNA markers that could be used with teak timber and that studied the teak chains in Indonesia and Myanmar.
Teak is one of the most commercially important timbers in the world. Its timber is durable and water resistant, and is used for boats, buildings, veneer, carving, turnings, and furniture. Illegally logged timber products, including teak, can enter markets through mixing legitimate supply chains and associated document fraud.
Australia works with producer countries to prevent illegal timber entering Australia; this benefits producer countries and improves environmental outcomes globally. Removing doubt about the origin of timber creates certainty for industry and consumers, opens markets for timber, and increases taxation revenue for governments of developing countries. It also provides a mechanism for community forestry suppliers to demonstrate sustainability to the global market.
DNA markers are used to distinguish timber species, source populations and individuals. The cost of this technology is dropping dramatically and is already cost effective when used with document verification audits. DNA technology is suitable for checking chain-of-custody compliance claims, and has been used for species in Indonesia and China.
The University of Adelaide will manage this project, working with the private sector and partners from ACIAR teak projects. The project will make legality compliance systems more efficient, reduce barriers for smallholders and wood manufacturing SMEs, and help Australia to restrict the import of illegally sourced timber.